Sunday, June 28, 2015

The home improvement week

My own blog reading has slipped terribly, so you all have my sympathies and a free pass to skip this diarising (I will write about books or something else soon), but I have now reached the end of home improvement week, and am feeling pleased.

Monday was to be gardening day, as Tuesday and Wednesday were originally forecast as wet, so my amazing and generous Aunt came around, bringing a crowbar and mattock, and we set to work (she actually loves being involved in “projects” and volunteers to do so, and said to me ‘you know I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it’). I should have taken before and after shots so the magnitude of this day could be appreciated. The first job was to remove the three understory camellias out the front, but when I did a little preliminary digging on this I discovered that at least two of them were suckered off giant roots close to the surface from the two monster camellias. So, one was totally unsalvageable, because it was just sprouting from a long piece of root we cut out, another had a few little roots connected to it so has been transplanted out the back, with a hope and a prayer, and so far still lives, and I took a few little bits with roots off the third and potted those, and my Aunt then took the large bush home to have a go at it. Next we pulled out a ragged old photinia out the back, that was way too big for the garden bed (and found three nice old china saucers buried in the dirt underneath it!), and next was trying to clean up the jasmine next to the garden shed, which we ended up having to remove completely, as it was beyond control, a huge tangled mess behind the shed and busting up the fence. (When I spoke to the old lady next door she said this place was actually empty for about 12 months before the family put it on the market, which explains why parts of the back yard were a bit crazy.) Underneath the big mound of jasmine was a large old stump, that had been there so long the paving was done around it, and my Aunt says ‘we can just take small steps and have a go at it’ and before the day was out we’d chipped the whole top off it, and I have four bags of the pieces we splintered off in the shed waiting for my fire pit. So, I was amazed we got so much done and particularly that stump out, and am very thankful to my Aunt for the help.

Here are a couple of pics of my Aunt in action on the stump, with the remnants of the jasmine, then the next one shows three camellias on the left. That tall one staked on the end of the garden bed is one of the “saplings” that was growing up under the others, which will give you some idea of how tall they are. The two in the large pots are small pieces off the other (and I would like a nicer table and chairs eventually!) and next to that is the square of dirt that was once the old stump. I now have seven camellias out the back, mostly in pots, which is a bit excessive, but will wait to see what colour they all are before I decide what to do.

Tuesday I took one last load of green waste to the tip (after two trips on Monday afternoon), cleaned up a few things in the garden, then wizzed in to Bunnings to get paint for the next job. Tuesday afternoon a friend was going to come for a visit. She has just returned from six weeks in hospital treating post-natal depression, and is wonderfully frank about that experience. She was coming at two, but it turned out her baby was having an epic sleep, so at four she still wasn’t here and we rescheduled. That was frustrating at the time, but I understood and there was no way I was going to begrudge the baby or the mother that sleep after all the dramas they’ve lived through. So, I set to work on chalk painting furniture as soon as I knew she wasn’t coming.

Wednesday morning was more painting, then lunch with the rector, assistant minister, and families and children’s minister, in my youth minister role, for us all to talk about what we’re doing. Then Bunnings visit the third (I think!) for a replacement jasmine, which I decided to plant on top of that old stump to grow along the fence, and more painting/waxing furniture.

Thursday was bed shuffling day, so I dismantled the single bed in my room (which is all I’ve ever had, because in share housing you don’t have beds bigger than you need them), to be reassembled in the spare room, and then put together a queen bed I bought on ebay a few months ago in my room, because my Aunt and Uncle had given me a mattress for that. So, my Aunt came around in the middle of this process also, and I’d said to her on the phone that we might have time for an “adventure”, as she calls them, in the afternoon. So after dragging furniture and mattresses about we went to the Strathnairn art collective and had a look around the gallery and the studios before having a cup of tea out on the lawn. It was a gorgeous day and that was a lovely place to spend some of it. Then we just went for a bit of a drive in the countryside out the back of Hall, which is very picturesque. Here is proof.

Friday morning my rescheduled friend came around for a coffee and chat, then I hit the shops to get ingredients for a dinner party that evening. My book club has been reading the book Bread and Wine, by Shauna Niequist, about food and community, so that night we got together and everyone had to bring along a dish made from one of the recipes in the book. The food was very American and a little strange, but I took dates stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon as an appetiser, then a white chicken chili soup style thing. Interesting. We have a fabulous evening of feasting together, and I have been inspired to get my act into gear on the hospitality front.

Saturday was prepping for youth group, which was revision on the Sermon on the Mount for the last week of term, then my Uncle and Aunt came around and my Uncle and I went off to Bunnings to return the garage door knob, which had failed, and get a replacement and put that on (I’ve had a few door-lock dramas, but hopefully they are now good), while my Aunt stayed here and planted little surprises in my garden, then a dinner organised by a fellow at church who does a summer and winter solstice event every year.

So I feel like another week off would be nice to do a little more relaxing, now that the majority of the home improvement jobs are done. I knew the week would disappear very quickly. I was going to do things like go see a movie, which I never got around to. I realised that I have only seen one movie since moving to Canberra, when a friend from Sydney was visiting. It’s another one of those things that, without someone obvious to go with, I just don’t do. I guess I don’t particularly enjoy seeing movies on my own or I would (as I can trust my own self-indulgence that far), but I was going to do it this week. (There’s always the guy who said I could call him, but I am not going to do that. I think if he meant anything by that he’d have called himself, not let so much time go by waiting for me to do it, and if he didn’t mean anything by it then I'm not going to make a mess by calling, which would then be all my fault for calling, and after bad experiences in the past I don’t do phone calls in any case – if I had an email address or we were Facebook friends I might have dropped a line to see whether I’d get an answer (though I’d rather not initiate anything at all), but I'm not making phone calls.) Then there's my ridiculous yarn stash, which I also didn't get to.

All up it’s been a good break though, in terms of getting the things done I wanted to get done. I am loving my little town house, more so after having spent a week at home in it. For the money I had to spend I don’t think I could have done better. I believe I have one of the best units in the complex (there are a number of different floor plans, some of which are a bit nonsensical, and mine is set back a ways because there is a strip of visitors parking out the front so I am not so close to the people opposite me, and my aspect is the best and I love the back end of it facing north, and the neighbours behind are lower set, so I don’t look into their windows out mine etc), and it has turned out be so convenient to facilities, yet also so close to some lovely countryside. Perfect. And having my Aunt and Uncle live reasonably close and be so willing to help has been an absolute godsend. I hardly know how I’d have done it with out them.

Now I just have to change gears for work tomorrow.

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