Category Archives: Renovating

Daunted By the Year Ahead?

How do you feel about starting another year? Have you made numerous New Year’s resolutions or goals, even writing them up in a spreadsheet with KPIs, deadlines and possibly even a star chart? Or, has the start of another year washed right over the top of you barely leaving a ripple in its wake?

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Fireworks Sydney Harbour NYE 2016

Well, I was still struggling to get my head around the last year when the fireworks started booming off the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was all happening. Indeed, 2017 was already here.

What the? Couldn’t I somehow press rewind, repeat and start the new year all over again when I’m ready? What about this new-fangled feature I have on the TV called catch up? Would that do the trick? As my daughter just reminded me, if I press the paw button on the remote, will I suddenly catch up on last year like magic? If only…!!

I guess that leaves time right where it is. Grr!

The terrible thing about starting another year is that our “exhausted post-Christmas end of year crashed out on the couch self” is suddenly confronted by our ideal, perfect self. The one who is going to exercise like an Olympian, diet like Jenny Craig, run on time like a clock and write more books than Enid Blyton. That’s while being the loving, attentive spouse/partner and even parent. Some how, we’re juggling like a clown and not dropping any of our balls at all.

This is what happens on the 1st January and it’s no wonder I’m feeling depressed, overwhelmed, inadequate and looking for someone else to drive the bus. I’ll disappear and hide in my hammock for the rest of the year, giving what you could describe as a totally underwhelming performance.

Okay! Okay! I’ll get out of my chair and get moving.

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One mixed up fridge door.

One look at the cluttered paperwork stuck on the fridge door gave me somewhere to begin.

Then, I thought I’d better clean the kitchen table first so I could sort out all the stuff on the fridge without it drowning in muck.

From there, I somehow ended up cleaning the inside of the fridge. It now looks like something out of a storage company catalogue with everything neatly stacked into boxes and tubs. Who owns this fridge? Has the fairy been? I must’ve woken up in someone else’s house.

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Eeyore Chilling Out in the Clean Fridge.

This reminds me of one good thing about ending one year and starting another. You can turf all last years notes and paraphernalia and create empty space. Indeed, if you’re lucky, you can now stretch out without causing an avalanche!

While I’m still formulating and getting my head around my goals for 2017, one word is entering my vocabulary….no! This is particularly pertinent to my daughter and all her activities. We can only do so much. That’s it. No more. There are limits. There are only 24 hours in a day and at least 8 are for sleeping. She can not live multiple lives at once. We have to make choices. Well, I’ll be making choices anyway. As I said, I’m learning how to say and apply the use of the word no, which will also apply to our son and the excessive use of electronics. No. Enough. Stop.

I can do this. Take a deep breath. Stretch into my full height and say no and mean it. Put my foot down and even push it through the floorboards, if that’s what it takes to be heard. That said, I sure hope it doesn’t come to that!

Meanwhile, I still have to muster up my inner strength. Lady, our recalcitrant Border Collie x Cavalier has been refusing to go out to bed at night. Last night, I ended up carrying her and trust me all that Christmas Cake she ate weighs a tonne. She’s going to find herself dealing with a sterner voice as well. I won’t be accepting “no” as an answer either.

Humph! Looks like these embryonic resolutions are starting out with training myself  and that’s a task I really don’t relish!

How are your New Year’s resolutions going so far? I’d love to hear from you!

Good luck!

xx Rowena

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share 9th July, 2016

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week, I’m offering you a mug of alphabet soup. Not just because it’s Winter here and a mug of soup somehow seems to warm you up inside and out, but also because I’ve been reading Roald Dahl’s English Dictionary. So rather than actually swallowing our soup, I reckon we should fish out the letters and see what we get. I wonder if this counts as “Gobblefunking with words”? Sounds close enough to me!

Dahl Dictionary

The big news here is that the kids are on school holidays, which in some ways means that I’m not on school holidays but on the other hand, I’m not driving them around as much, so at least Mum’s Taxi is having a break. Next week, it’ll be getting the engine back into gear driving the kids to and from final rehearsals and at last performances of the Gang Show…a variety show put on by Scouts, Guides and their leaders. This year, it’s called “Once Upon A Time” and includes songs from Walt Disney, Dr Suess and Monty Python. I’m really looking forward to seeing the show and seeing what it actually is as well as seeing the kids. We’ve never been to a Gang Show before.

I am feeling much better today. I’ve had some trouble with a chest infection, asthma coughing etc and after being on antibiotics and taking all my asthma medications, i finally bit the bullet yesterday and bought a cough syrup with codeine and had a great night’s sleep. I actually feel alive today, which makes me realize I’ve been off for a few weeks. There might even be a spring in my step, even though it’s still Winter.

So, how are things going with you? Well, I hope!

My family history research battles continue. I don’t know how many of you have delved into family history research but I love it. Once you get through the people you know about, that’s when the detective work begins and for better or worse, I show no mercy. I am a detective/journalist at heart pursuing the story like a dog hunting down a bone. Thanks to the Internet, you can unearth so much buried treasure these days, although most of it is either birth, death, marriage notices unless your ancestors got themselves in a spot of trouble or had accidents of some sort. That is unless they actually achieved something.

Anyway, I’m trying to find out where my grandmother’s family, the Gardiners, actually came from. I don’t know whether it bothers you where your ancestors came from or why they moved from one side of the world to the other but it bothers me. I need to know, especially as my grandmother saw herself as Irish Australian but it could well be that she’s mostly English, which changes the story quite considerably. As it stands, our Gardiners could be English, Irish or Scottish and I want to find out.

After too many dead ends to mention, I’m hoping I’ve finally found John Gardiner’s death certificate. I thought I’d sensed a convict in the mix when I couldn’t find things easily. If this is our John Gardiner, he ended up changing his name to Gardiner-Garden after becoming a senior figure in the NSW Education Department. Whether he’s our John or not, he’s certainly a character and reminds me of Mrs Bucket from the English comedy show Keeping Up Appearances who called herself “Mrs Bouquet”. Nothing like covering up your tracks!

This weekend, we’re doing a bit of work on the house. We’re replacing our kitchen pantry and also adding new curtains to the lounge room. The pantry was a gift from some friends who are moving and I managed to pick up these New-looking Ikea curtains from the opportunity shop for $10.00 each. So, the lounge room is looking well dressed for $40.00. While it’s been great to pick up Ikea curtains for a bargain, the convenience is even better. We don’t have a big shopping centre close-by and it’s much easier for me to buy from the op shops than travel somewhere. Moreover, Ikea is about 2 hours away. So, my bargain was quite a win!!

These new curtains will really brighten up the lounge room, which has been feeling a bit dark and dull during Winter and this is where we spend most of our time. They’re a rosy burgundy colour with a real sheen in the fabric and they really shine in the light.

Getting back to the school holidays, the kids are currently stayed with my parents. My son went down a bit earlier, which left my daughter and I playing Monopoly and doing some cooking.

When did you last play Monopoly?

I’m not really sure whether I like playing Monopoly or not. However, the trouble is you need time to get through a game and usually our games peter out, rather than reaching THE END.

However, time is what you’re meant to have in the school holidays and you’re not supposed to be “too busy” when your much loved and cherished offspring desire some “Mummy Daughter time”. My daughter is big on this even though that phrase really makes me cringe. Cringing aside, I behaved and we played Monopoly. I am not someone who deliberately lets kids win, but I’m not a sore loser either. However, I am human and am not ashamed to admit I don’t want to bomb out and go broke on my first couple of runs around the board.

Early on, I made some joke about her living it up at Mayfair and Park Lane, while I’m slumming it over at White Chapel and Old Kent Roads. I should’ve kept my trap shut!! Sure enough, that came to pass. Fortunately, the game “ended” before she ventured into hotel management and wiped me out completely.  Phew!

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My daughter’s Dish.

That was Wednesday. Thursday, she decided we were having a Mini Chef Mystery Box Challenge. We each had to choose 4 secret ingredients for each other to use in addition to an open pantry. This was a really fun idea…even if she was trying to throw me by selecting tuna, sardines, salt and Grain Waves for my mystery box. I fed the sardines to the dogs and we had a sexy variation of tuna mornay for dinner. So, here’s Challenged By My Mini Chef.

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My Dish.

If you’re looking for a bit of a laugh, here’s a post I reblogged from Cooking With Whiskers about making hats for your cat. I’ve sent the link to the kids so Grandma’s cat had better beware of the hats! Here’s the link.

After chatting about all of this, I almost forgot to tell you that we still don’t have a result for the Australian Federal Election. It’s looking like the Liberals under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be returned but we’re yet to find out the final numbers. I just hope that the next 3 years doesn’t turn into an excuse for a political nonsense down in Canberra.Much needs to be done and we’re not paying our politicians to fight among themselves, although that might come as a bit of a surprise to them!

What have you been up to this week? I hope you’ve had a great week and I look forward to catching up!

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. You can click the  linky to read the other posts.

Best wishes,

xx Rowena

 

 

Scaredy Mum! Dog tells all!

Although dibber-dobbing is well and truly against The Dog’s Code of Ethics, I have to speak out.

The life of whistle blower isn’t easy but leaving someone caught up and strangled by their own fear, is sanctioning self-destruction.Naturally, that’s something no decent dog would ever condone. So, once again, Bilbo, Mum’s loyal canine crusader is back.

Besides, when someone  has the audacity to write you a set of  New Year’s Resolutions before they’ve even considered their own, I’m sure you’ll agree they deserve “their comeuppance!”

Mum is supposed to be painting six skirting boards, which are destined for Mister’s bedroom, which is currently under re-construction. Instead, the skirting boards, work benches, paint tin and brush are all still out in the garage while Mum has been writing! She’s even been writing about the renovations. That is, instead of actually doing any renovating. I was naturally shocked because “renovating” is a doing word… not some fluffy adjective!

While at first, I thought Mum was just being her typically lazy self (remember she did nothing to try to find the missing Mister and bring him home!) or procrastinating. However, using my superior canine detective skills, I sniffed out that she was caught in the grasp of a paralyzing perfectionism. Indeed, the fear of making even the smallest mistake, had left her stonkered. She’d retreated deep inside her shell and wouldn’t come out.

Indeed, Mum has not only opened the door to fear but has also offered it a seat, a cup of tea and even a piece of Vegemite toast. Now, they’re parked in front of the TV set together, the best of mates when she should be out there painting instead. Moreover, what with fear whispering her sweet nothings, she’s become dangerously intoxicated. Paralyzed. Dad just mentioned the word “paint” and I heard her mutter something about Pandora’s Box and how even opening the tin was going to unleash something deadly. A poison? An explosion? I couldn’t be sure but either way, Mum was convinced she was going to die! It would mean the end of the world.

That’s some tin of paint!

Now, I’m sure you can appreciate how Mum’s been sorely trying my patience. I mean, these crazy humans think they know how to run the world better than dogs simply because they walk on two legs. They’ve stuck themselves up on some kind of dais way above God, I mean dog (Sorry about that. I sometimes get my letters mixed up) when indeed, they spend most of their lives chasing their own tails, instead of putting them to good use.

Of course, I’ve tried to be compassionate and understanding, especially during meals when she’ll usually slip me some Vegemite toast! However, now I need your help. Sometimes trying to work out humans is even beyond me.

Why can’t Mum just get on with the job?

Hasn’t she heard that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”?

After all, that’s human, not dog, philosophy. Why can’t she understand that once she starts painting, that it will become so much easier to keep going and get the job done? That getting started is the hard part and once you’ve jumped that hurdle, you’re almost home…especially with something so simple?

Yet, she’s still there entertaining fear like it’s her best friend! It’s been more than a few days and now that the rain’s cleared up, there can be no more excuses. Time is running out. Soon, Mister will be back from Scout camp and expecting his bed in his room. Not parked on it’s side in the lounge room like it’s had CPR.

If only she’d asked me for assistance, I’d have had those planks painted with my eyes closed. They might not have appreciated the black fur in the paint but I’d sacrifice my tail to make Mum happy.

Then again, doing it for her isn’t really helping, is it? Only making things worse. I might as well ask fear to stay on for dinner and even dessert. No! Mum has to get out of that chair and start painting.

Well, if you think fear can be darn persistent and annoying, you’ve never met a Border Collie. I have a PhD in persistence. You just ask Dad about my ball. Actually, perhaps you’d better not!

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Bilbo appropriating another dog’s ball.

What you humans have only half worked out about us dogs, is that we can not only read your minds, we plant messages in there as well. Indeed, we’re so good at it that you mistake it for your own idea.

So, I began planting subliminal messages in Mum’s head. Memories of successfully skiing down the mountain at Perisher when she was even struggling to walk. Playing her violin. Driving the car. All these things are so much harder than painting a couple of planks, surely she’ll get my drift! That she can do it and besides, isn’t not trying the only real form of failure?!!

However, even after all of those hard efforts, she’s still unsure.

So, I’m going for the big guns aiming straight for the heart strings. Being so risky, this is a last resort. I’ve heard terrible stories of accidentally snapping their heartstrings and after that, the humans don’t seem to function very well.

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Hesitantly, I start thinking of Mister and how he’ll feel when he arrives home and sees his new room. How he’ll see this as so much more than just a coat of paint. That by doing up his room, Mum and Dad have turned their hearts inside out and painted their love onto those walls. It will be just like when they welcomed him home to his new room as a baby, only now he’s well on his way to becoming a man.

Then, just to make sure, I threw in a good dose of guilt. Mister arriving home to find a demolition sight instead and walking straight out that door and back to camp.

Yes, I know that was getting low but if you’d seen how Mum and fear were chatting, laughing, connecting at such a deep and personal level, you’d be using every trick in the book as well!

Ha! There she goes just like a puppet on a string, walking straight out to the garage.  I told her that job would be a breeze!

Now, just look at her go…over a few days shelves, a wall. Once she gets going, she could almost paint a thousand miles except she’s also human. She has her limits.

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Miss helping to paint Mister’s room.

So, with less than 24 hours now before Mister arrives home, I’m off to round her up again. While she’s made a great start, she still needs to make it to the finish.

Have the room ready and pick Mister up!

By the way, I’m not so sure that I mixed those letters up…DOG…GOD?

Does it matter?

Either way, I’m smarter than your average human!

That’s a fact!

xx Bilbo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dog Hijacks Weekend Coffee Time!

Greetings Coffee, tea and water drinkers… both human and canine!

It’s Rowena’s dog, Bilbo. I’ve hijacked Mum’s blog to join in at the Weekend Coffee Share.

So, what would you like to drink? It’s stinking hot here so you’ll definitely need a drink.

If you’re interested, I might even be able to pilfer some Vegemite toast but no guarantees I won’t accidentally eat it in transit. Despite my best intentions, I’m still a dog!

As much a try to be sociable, I’d better leave you to your caffeinated drinks and I’ll stick to water.

Although I’m getting older and slowing down, a Border Collie on caffeine wouldn’t be appreciated. Not that I’ve ever tried the stuff. The humans find my exuberant persistence irritating at the best of times. So, fuel that with even a drop of caffeine and I’ll be spending a week “OUTSIDE!!!!!” Worse still, I might even find myself sent off to the Home for Naughty Dogs at the top of the hill. I’m such a good dog, that they’ve never even mentioned such a thing. However, I’ve heard about this despicable place via local telegraph poles.

So, how has your week been? Hope it’s been good!

I’m sorry if I’m a bit flustered and not all that attentive. Usually, like most dogs, I’m an incredible listener  but I’m under incredible stress and my brain’s running faster than my paws.

While Mum’s stuck in yet another cycle of painting-avoidance, I’ve hijacked the blog as I desperately need your help.

Mister has gone missing and I suspect he’s been captured and most likely eaten by killer Drop Bears. I’ve issued a  Media Release but I’d really appreciate your help. No one around here’s done anything to try and find him. They’ve just cleared out his room and painted over any trace of him at all.

That leaves me, the Lone Dog Crusader, to find him and as usual, carry the weight of the world on my shoulders.

While I’m up for the job, who in their right mind would want to be Atlas lugging the world around on their shoulders? Take it from me. It’s mighty heavy and I’m not as young as I used to be. These bones are starting to creak.

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Last Seen.

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to be locked up in a backyard with all my superior herding and sniffing abilities and not be able to search. We Border Collies might have been bred for chasing sheep but there’s not a lot of difference between sheep and humans…especially the kids. They’re always wandering around in all sorts of wrong directions, instead of doing what they’re supposed to.

Of course, I’d be in strife if I ever gave them a nip at the back of the heel but sometimes I’ve come close. What’s good enough for sheep, is good enough for them!

Anyway, Lady (my canine companion) and I have been trying to work out what happened to Mister.

Lady reckons it all goes back to the fireworks and tells me she was right to be concerned. Concerned? Lady was about to combust or have a heart attack, she was that worried. However, now that Mister is missing, I’m thinking those fireworks were actually Drop Bears fighting in the trees, preparing to launch their attack.

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The Drop Bear

What concerns me most, however, is Mum and Dad’s complete lack of concern about Mister’s whereabouts. If I’d ever been allowed to have puppies and become a dad myself (instead of having that cruelest cut of all!), I’d never lose track of MY pups. No! Of course, not!!!! I’d be watching them 24/7 and giving them a quick nip on the ankle if they ever dared to wonder off. None of this laissez-faire human parenting!

That’s if you can call total neglect “parenting” but what would I know? I’m just a dog.

Mum’s been writing and doing “research” for her precious “Book Project”. At least, that’s what SHE says. I’m no fool. She’s actually just been reading old letters, thinking about the good old days and revisiting Paris on her laptop.

Some Mother she is!

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Miss helping to paint Mister’s room.

Sure, she’s also done a bit of painting but that was only under duress. As soon as Dad and Miss returned last night, she passed over the the roller and brush in a flash and was sitting back on the couch.

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Found this photo of Mister on the laptop. Knew he was in trouble but didn’t know Drop Bears kept their victims hostage. C’mon!  Why aren’t Mum and Dad trying to save him?

I can’t help wondering whether they even love their own son. If he was my son, I’d be jumping fences and scouring the streets, even patrolling the beach looking for scent. I wouldn’t stop looking until he was found.

However, as it stands, dogs are strictly prohibited from jumping fences.

That’s why I need your help.

Please help me find Mister.

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See! Drop Bears! I’m not imagining anything!

I have one last clue, which only came to light yesterday.

Dad and Miss had been out for the day but when they came home, I could smell Mister. While this was great news, suggesting that the Drop Bears haven’t got him after all, it still doesn’t account for his whereabouts. AND… if they did find Mister, why didn’t they bring him home? How could they leave him behind?

I have gone over and over this, trying to make sense of their madness but I can’t.

Wouldn’t you agree this is irresponsible at best? I don’t even have the vocabulary to express the worst.

Of course, this leaves it up to me to be the hero and find Mister when I could be munching on a choice juicy bone simply being a regular backyard dog, instead needing to become a canine hero.

So, despite appearances to the contrary, it’s not an easy being a dog. You probably think I’m a real misery guts feeling sorry for myself. However, how would you feel? They only ever seem to give me  one piece of the entire puzzle. Yet, expect me to find all the scattered, missing pieces and even come up with the solution!  Usually, I nut things out eventually. However, even for a dog as smart as me, this is a big ask. All the cogs have to be very well greased and they’re just lucky I’m something of a hidden genius.

However, having the best brain in the world isn’t going to help find Mister if I’m locked up in the backyard.

That’s why I need your help! As you can see, I’ve posted his photo. Have you seen Mister? If so, could you please bring him home.

I don’t believe he’s been micro-chipped. Again, the humans’ parenting skills are appalling! They microchip their pets but NOT their kids. Don’t they want to find them? It seems they’re much more interested in keeping track of their pets, than their very own flesh and blood. Trust me! If I’d been allowed to have pups, all of them would’ve been micro-chipped.  No questions asked!

On top of the Mister’s disappearance, there have been other mysteries this week.

Miss disappeared the day after Mister but as she’s now home, I won’t trouble you with that drama.

That is, except to say that it would’ve been very quiet around here if it hadn’t been for the endless pounding of the rain.

Of course, Lady kept  telling me that the sky was falling. After the whole fireworks debacle, I was about to book her in for therapy. However, as even Mum was looking rattled, I gave Lady the benefit of the doubt.

It was during all this rain that I overheard talk of Mister camping out in the rain. For parents who hadn’t bothered trying to find their very own son, they’d suddenly become very concerned. Indeed, they were having all sorts of discussions about wet clothes, washing, taking dry clothes, tents washing away and mud.  I couldn’t understand any of these concerns. After all,they weren’t even trying to find him.

I’ve since concluded that humans must be related to the Sloth! Walking on two legs must really wear them out. They can barely find enough energy to throw my ball let alone chase it. I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised that they can’t be bothered looking for Mister. Obviously, I expect too much!

Anyway, eventually, the rain cleared. Miss returned and we went for a run along the beach. The latest heavy rain and winds have caused further  erosion and about 20 more trees have been uprooted and are lying on the beach. We were all pretty sad about that as we’d hoped the beach was recovering from the last storm. Mum said that if the trees were whales, their plight would’ve made international headlines but as they’re only trees, it probably won’t even make the local paper. That’s terrible but, at least, we cared!

Before I head off, I should probably mention New Year’s Resolutions.

You might have read that Mum wrote Lady and I each a letter outlining our list of New Year’s Resolutions:

Bilbo’s Letter

Lady’s Letter

Although it was our understanding that you’re supposed to write your own resolutions, we gave them a read.  We might feign illiteracy but we’re actually pretty good readers. Moreover, as you can appreciate from this effort, I’m quite a writer as well.

However, that’s our little secret. Although Mum suspects Lady can read, I’ve slipped well and truly under the radar. As you might appreciate, revealing our superior intellect would only result in more jobs and all sorts of expectations. We just want to be pets.

Anyway, while our New Year’s resolutions made for entertaining reading, we agree that it’s a bit rich for Mum to be giving us advice when she can’t even keep track of her own son. Moreover, now that he’s on the cusp of becoming a teenager, it’s only going to get worse. I can definitely see she’ll be needing my assistance big time!

So, since she put so much time and effort into putting together resolutions for US, we thought we’d do HER a favour. We wrote Mum her own list:

  1. Keep better track of your kids. If they run off, a quick nip on the ankles will tell them who’s boss. When they get lost, find them!
  2. Go to bed earlier. You’ve ended up in some kind of timeless wonderland during the school holidays. You’re going to be a zombie if you stay up all night with those 6.30AM starts when school goes back.
  3. More walking.
  4. Diet. If it’s good enough for us, it’s good enough for you.
  5. Renovate Kennel.
  6. Buy more dog bones.
  7. Feed dogs sausages.
  8. Finish the Book Project.

We gave her the same list last year and she ignored it but we thought it might just be worth another shot.

By the way, I’ve been working so hard that it’s now sunset.

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A Front Yard Sunset Viewed Through the Norfolk Pine.

Thank you so much for coming round for coffee and now that we’ve had a chat, how about throwing my ball?

Bilbo with ball

I’ll get you fit in no time for the New Year!

I’ve heard you listed “lose weight” and “Get Fit” in your New Year’s resolutions, even if you didn’t write them down.

I’ve lost 14 kilos in the last year so chasing the ball isn’t so crazy after all!

After you’ve thrown the ball a bit, then, you can start searching for Mister!

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part Time Monster and please check us out at the Linky

Thanks so much for listening! Much affection,

Bilbo xxoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Year’s Coffee Share

Happy New Year to you all!

I hope you had a fabulous NYE! What did you get up to?

We stayed home and watched the Sydney fireworks on TV with the kids and the dogs. Sydney has two huge fireworks displays all focused on the magnificent Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Harbour. There’s the family display at 9.00PM and of course, the huge midnight extravaganza. I understand that I’m using a lot of flashy lingo here but these fireworks were truly out of this world and even the photos I took from the television at home were breathtakingly beautiful.

You can read more about it here:

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/sydney-fireworks-a-prelude-to-midnight/

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2016/01/01/happy-new-year-sydney/

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However, every rose has it’s thorns and the unfortunate downside of the fireworks is terrified and panic-stricken pets.

We had a lot of local people letting of backyard fireworks and it’s these explosions which seriously distressed our younger dog, Lady. She turned into a slobbering, shaking mess, which went on for almost 5 hours. With my glasses all fogged up and needing windscreen wipers, it was a long night…for us and the dog!

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A panic-stricken Lady seeking to uproot the laptop.

This is not the first New Year’s Eve we’ve been home babysitting dogs either. Once upon a time, we used to be out by the Harbour smelling the gunpowder and being part of the atmosphere instead of watching on.

Yes, once upon a time.

Indeed, Geoff and I actually met on New Year’s Eve 17 years ago at a friend’s party overlooking the fireworks. Obviously, there were fireworks of a different sort.

Have you set any New Year’s Resolutions?

Or, perhaps, you’re a bit like me and had them thrust upon you…the New Year’s Resolutions you had to have?

Here are just a few which have been thrust on me:

  1. Be on time. This includes the kids as well.
  2. Go to bed earlier.
  3. Establish a weekly routine/schedule.
  4. Reduce spending.
  5. Organise house.

I addressed the whole resolution thing here: A Magical New Year https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2016/01/02/a-magical-new-year/

Meanwhile, I’ve set myself the goal to get on with the Book Project, which could well be completely incompatible and at odd with all of the above points.

I’m also starting to think about the Blogging A-Z April Challenge. I am writing about Sydney but working on an angle to try to limit the scope. I also want to make it really interesting for overseas readers, which make up most of my readers. I’ll be getting started on this almost immediately so the kids and I can work on it over the holidays and get material. That will be a fun holiday project for them.

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It takes a hell of a lot of work for a Scout to get to Jamboree!

Meanwhile, if we were having coffee today, I’d be telling you that the reason why we haven’t gone away this January is that our son has gone away to Jamboree with Scouts for 12 days and when he gets back, he’ll be off to High School. From what we’ve been told, he’ll be doing so much at Jamboree that when he gets home, he’ll just be wanting to sleep. Not sure for how long but I’ve already arranged for his sister to be at my parents’ place when he gets back so he can have some peace. I am expecting a potentially growling bear going into hibernation.

Major reconstruction required to the room!

Major reconstruction required to the room!

While he’s away, we’re painting his room. There’ll be no surprises here as we discussed it all before he left. However, I’m sure you know how these projects work. You don’t appreciate the full horror until it’s too late to turn back. “A paint job” or face lift has now turning into reconstructive surgery.  However, there’s no anaethetist for the hapless parents doing the task while the lad is off having the time of his life. No team of TV experts either. I must also admit that I’d have to classify myself as a major liability to smooth operations and I’m more likely to break than fix anything.

Before kids, I painted all the walls. After kids, I applied a seemingly simple patch to a hole in the wall and instead of being flat, it bulged outward like a tumour.My husband is now talking to me about the ???!! instructions after removing said patch and fixing it himself.

As for how the hole ended up in the wall, I need more than a coffee to deal with that!

With all of this going on, I dropped my prednisone used to treat my auto-immune disease down half a mg today to 7.5mg per day and really felt it. Have spent much of the day in bed. Will take a few days to adjust and I’m going to stay at this level while we get through first term.

So, here I am sitting at my computer having coffee with you while Geoff is at work. Mister is at Scout Jamboree and our daughter is living it up at her grandparents.

Humph! After writing all this, I realise that yet again, I’m procrastinating. That I’m talking and writing instead of doing but just give me another coffee and I’ll be ready for work!

 

Coffee french

So, now that we’ve survived the hangover, it’s time to get on with another year!

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part Time Monster and please check us out at the linky: http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=595142

Love & Best Wishes,

Rowena

PS For any of you in the North who might be experiencing the January Blues, I strongly recommend that if you can’t hop on a plane and join us Down Under that you pop over to Suzie and read this brilliant post. I’ve printed it out because it doesn’t have to be Winter to have a bad day!http://suzie81speaks.com/2016/01/02/how-to-beat-the-january-blues/

Renovating Uncovered.

A fortnight ago, spurred on by our decluttering efforts, we finally started putting in the new kitchen cupboards. This was the first step in ripping out the cupboards under the sink so the dishwasher can go in. Not simply a matter of just supergluing the cupboards to the wall,, we had to dismantle the shelf first and somehow rehome a hell of a lot stuff… mostly treasured collectables.

The- contents of the shelf downloaded onto the kitchen table. Shame they could be uploaded quite so easily.

The- contents of the shelf downloaded onto the kitchen table. Shame they couldn’t be uploaded quite so easily.

A ceramic plate I painted andan envelope written by Miss is hardly "clutter".

A ceramic plate I painted and an envelope written by Miss is hardly “clutter” but expressions of love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, as I’d booked a council clean-up, the cupboard building and moving the dishwasher went on hold for the weekend as we ripped up the vinyl in the kitchen instead. Then, along came sanding, vanishing and moving a hell of a lot of stuff. The dogs weren’t too keen on all of this. Once the vanish was down, they were outside. After all, we didn’t want pawprints and dog hair entombed in the  wet varnish. As much as we love our dogs, there are much better ways of remembering them for eternity!

Not Hppy Jan! Inside dogs put outside made numerous complaints to management!!

Not Hppy Jan! Inside dogs put outside made numerous complaints to management!!

So, after all of this activity, it’sofficial. We’re renovating.

If you’ve ever renovated, then you’ll know that renovating is a state of being, not just something you do. Indeed, to be perfectly frank, launching into a new renovation project is like getting engaged and the newspapers really should add a “Now Renovating” column to the hatched, matches and despatches.

Mr & Mrs Smith of 35 Jones Street, Greensville have just announced that they’re renovating their one storey shack and will be adding a second storey and a luxury heated dog kennel.

Moreover, just like you don’t announce that long anticipated engagement until there’s a ring on the finger, the more discerning don’t mention we’re renovating until the job is well underway and almost finished.  There needs to be sufficent evidence to satisfy Blind Freddy, not just the likes of Sherlock Holmes with his huge magnifying glass or the CSI team, who could even view you’re most miniscule efforts under the microscope. You see, “gunna renovate” has about as much cred as “gunna write a novel”.

Geoff at work, while I take the photos. That's what I call a real team effort!

Geoff at work, while I take the photos. That’s what I call a real team effort!

See what I mean about wanting to get something simple done but all you find is jobs on jobs on jobs. Now, we have some extra painting to do and a powerpoint to replace as well! It's no wonder the road to renovation is paved with skeletons!

See what I mean about wanting to get something simple done but all you find is jobs on jobs on jobs. Now, we have some extra painting to do and a powerpoint to replace as well! It’s no wonder the road to renovation is paved with skeletons!

Another intriguing thing about renovating is just how difficult it is to stay on track.Indeed, there’s no such thing as a direct route. Instead, you dart all over the place like a crazed ant because even a simple task, requires something like ten steps before you can get started and and all of these miscellaneous tasks not only send you off all over the house but also on multiple trips to the hardware store. Naturally, all this meandering with all its inherent delays can be absolutely infuriating and you can’t help feeling you’ve developed a severe case of: “Renovator’s Curse”. I can testify that this allfliction is even more severe than cyberchondria! It’s almost fatal!!

 

Renovating has also made me more aware of how much you can put up with before you actually get it fixed.

For us, the glaringly obvious involves our dishwasher. You won’t believe this but the dishwasher has been out in the laundry for the last 14 years and we’ve been lugging the dishes in and out throughout all the flare ups of my muscle disease. Most of that time, I was the one doing the carrying. It’s only been recently that the kids have been promoted to “Dishwasher Managers” and that hasn’t been ideal either. They’ve each dropped a stack of bowls.That not only compromised their safety but bowls have also become an endangered species!

Yes, you could say that things have been rather precarious around here but given the intensity of the disease itself and my treatments, we’ve been a little distracted. So distracted that we’d switched off to our struggles and just pushed on. It was only once we were on holidays, that we realised how easy things were when the dishwasher is in it’s rightful place. That finally spurred us into action. Plus, I’ve been in remission for a year and the broken foot has also healed so we need to move quick!

Moreover, while we’ve been trying to decide whether to tile, add a floating floor or go with the original floorboards, the kitchen floor’s been getting ragged. A few years ago, a friend pushed me to bite the bullet, encouraging me to “just rip it all up”.

Well, you know how it is. I blame my writing and my health for my procrastination. As you might appreciate, before such a significant decision could be made, I had to write a blog post at the very least, if not an entire book. I couldn’t possibly by-pass all of that kerfuffle and simply get something done!!

No, not at all!

This sensational headline was the first thing we saw when we liefted up the vinyl. How incredible. All the newspapers were a bit of a time capsule from 1995-1996.

This sensational headline was the first thing we saw when we liefted up the vinyl. How incredible. All the newspapers were a bit of a time capsule from 1995-1996.

So, after much ado, we have finally ripped up the vinyl. Salvaged armfuls of newspapers dating back to 1995 for “later”and we have varnished the floorboards. This is a temporary step until we pull out the kitchen cupboards and put down a floating floor. Unfortunately, the floor boards weren’t great and remind me of that kid who can fit a coin between their front teeth. Yes, they’re a bit too spaced out with veritable ditches between each plank but they’ll do for now.

Another striking flashback. Imagine finding Princess Diana under the vinyl. I guess that's what happens after the limelight fades...even just a little.

Another striking flashback. Imagine finding Princess Diana under the vinyl. I guess that’s what happens after the limelight fades…even just a little.

Next weekend, that dishwasher will finally get its marching orders. I can’t wait. A pile of plates is just about to be lifted off my shoulders and perhaps those little dishwasher managers of mine will be a lot more productive as well. You could well say: “Dream on!”

After sanding the floorboards.

Bilbo inspecting the floor after sanding the floorboards.

After putting up with all this for so long and feeling like the house was the one thing that I couldn’t change despite all the other miracles I’ve been able to pull off, we are finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Indeed, we’ve actually discovered the tunnel.

Do you have any renovation stories you’d like to share?

xx Rowena