Tag Archives: renovating

Return of the Prodigal Scout.

The prodigal son has returned from the Australian Scouting Jamboree in once piece. At this point, it’s yet to be determined whether the rest of him has returned. However, pack, day pack and stretcher have all been accounted for. We’re letting him settle in tonight before further investigations begin in the morning.

Of course, right on pick-up time, there was a severe storm warning. Deep purple clouds invaded what had been an azure blue sky and Geoff even rang me from work asking me to get a lift up and he’d meet me there. He didn’t want me driving through it. When we pulled up, the rain was absolutely bucketing down with huge raindrops which had truly soaked up the moisture on this stinking hot day. Then, just when their coach appeared, the rain magically stopped. Amen to that!

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Geoff and Mister.

 

I don’t know what to expect at such “airport” scenes. Do you run towards each other having some kind of head-on collision… the hug to end all hugs? Or, do you go for something more restrained? Even give the lad a manly handshake? I usually go for the more enthusiastic, demonstrative: “Mum you’re so embarrassing” approach. However, what with the rain, a pile of kids getting off the bus and other parents and stacks of bags to wade through, in the end I was just grateful to spot our boy and have him back safely and sitting in the back seat of our 1963 Morris Minor…”Morrie”.

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Mother & Son

I’m sorry that you haven’t been formally introduced to Morrie. He’s my husband’s toy, bought while other families are trading up to larger 4WDs which can fit the kids, their friends, dogs, bikes. As you could imagine, Morrie is unfashionably small and very much a “one family car”.  As he’s a manual, I can’t drive Morrie and take it from me, the driving public is better off! Morrie’s something of a celebrity and it takes Geoff ages to get petrol. However, rather than being a babe-magnet like you’re usual midlife crisis vehicle, Morrie usually attracts seniors who learned to drive on one. Sometimes, Geoff’s been gone so long, I’ve almost filed a Missing Person’s Report by the time he gets back.

Anyway, picking up Mister was quite different to what I’d expected. He was a lot more awake and talkative. There were hugs all round, he posed for photos and collected his gear while we thanked leaders, exchanged catch up and renovation horrors with other equally mad parents who’ve spent what could have been a relaxing 12 days, painting and trying to tame domestic hell.

I don’t know what I was expecting. He sort of looked the same and yet sort of not. Has he grown? I mean physically. There’s no doubt after all those activities, which will no doubt slowly drip feed into conversation, that he’s grown exponentially mentally, psychologically and character-wise. I am incredibly intrigued to see quite how. But is he taller? I couldn’t be sure.

Aside from greeting the lad, there were two big questions:

  1. How would he react to his new room?
  2. How would the dogs react to seeing him at long last?

We gave him the option of room or dogs first and he chose the dogs.

Of course, I’d expected both dogs to jump all over him and almost combust with excitement. They’ve clearly been missing him and last night Bilbo was lying on his bedroom floor looking quite dejected. I thought they’d be thrilled to see Lazarus rise from his supposed grave and burst through the front door alive and well.

Lady, our 3 year old exuberant Border Collie x Cavalier is a real social butterfly and loves affection and company. Every morning, she bursts through the door and I can’t wait to see you. She jumps all over you, showers you with affection and you hear this tap tap tap as she whacks her tail on the floor. As you move closer, her tail even speeds up, which really is so endearing. Makes you feel incredibly loved and appreciated. Bilbo, our 9 year old Border Collie, is more of an introvert and definitely takes time to warm up to new people. He’ll wag his tail but he’s much more reserved.

However, having Mister arrive home from camp wasn’t supposed to be some kind of experiment or investigation into dog behaviour and it’s been quite awhile since I’ve really given the dog’s personalities a second thought.

BUT…The dogs weren’t combusting with excitement when Mister arrived home. Rather, they gave him the cold shoulder and all but ignored him completely. There was no jumping, tail wagging and barely a hello. After a very long, awkward pause, Bilbo unenthusiastically wandered off, retrieved his ball and finally gave Mister an extended sniff. It was almost liked he’d forgotten who Mister was and didn’t quite know who this new boy was. Where did he come from? Perhaps, Bilbo thought he’d seen a ghost!

Or, perhaps it was a case of: “Where have you been? I thought you were dead. How could you put me through such hell?”

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Dog with Attitude.

If you’ve ever read the Parable of the Sower, Bilbo was definitely playing the part of the aggrieved older brother …especially when I opened up a box of chocolates and we had pizza for dinner and the prodigal son ate up and the dogs missed out. “That’s some reward for being loyal,” they groaned,  muttering something about being unappreciated, exploited, neglected. I’m sure you get the general idea.

Anyway, now it was time for the big Bedroom Reveal. Mister said I should have had a red ribbon and a pair of scissors. Hadn’t thought of that. I’m sure I have some red ribbon and a gold pair of Eiffel Tower scissors somewhere but I’ve filed them somewhere safe, no doubt never to be seen again! We’d just have to proceed without ceremony. Well, I did remember to have his Ed Sheerin CD playing.

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Mister’s New Domain.

So, we opened the door and there were no jaw drops, leaping through the roof with excitement like he’d just bought a Toyota (Oh what a feeling!) but did say it: “looked good”. After battling crooked walls and misplaced power points just to retro fit the skirting boards, Geoff couldn’t resist pointing out the new white skirting boards. He also pointed out a certain hole in the wall, which had experienced a “divine healing”. Mister listened and knew we’d worked hard on the room but now that the work was done, it looked like the room had always been this way. The result looks so natural, that it doesn’t seem new. Now, perhaps the shock is looking back on how it was.

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How could we let it be for so long and yet did we have a choice?

So, how was Jamboree?

It’s going to take time for all the stories to peculate into conversation but I’m doing my best to help him capture these memories of a life time.

Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, it looks like someone found it in his furry heart to forgive!

jonathon & bilbo

The Boy and His Dog.

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!

Bilbo with ball

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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