The building inspector does his job

Colin, the builder, has finished for the day. Paul has lugged all the equipment from the carport back into the half finished room for safe keeping. The make shift heavy cardboard door has been screwed into place. Time now for the building inspector to do his nightly inspection.

Every piece of equipment is looked over and sniffed. Anything that was there yesterday gets just a cursory glance, but he takes his time with anything newly added. The tile cutter was new tonight, he spent a few minutes sniffing every inch of that.

Today’s work though was sealed off from his prying eyes as the adhesive is still soft, and the spacers are still in place. Another surprise for him to expect tomorrow night.

Floor tiles have been laid.

I think by the end of this week it’s going to be really taking shape.

The building site

Work on the new bedroom and en-suite is well underway. The en-suite is taking shape with the shower walls up, some of the bathroom wall panelling fitted, and the pre-plumbing fit out completed. Paul spent much of today applying the green water proof coating to the shower walls and floor. The floor tiles will be laid tomorrow, and the shower wall tiles the following day. The vanity cabinet has been ordered with delivery expected next week.

All waterproofed and ready for the tiles
The pre- plumbing fit out is complete, and the kick boards of the double vanity is in place

The wardrobe framework is up. Unfortunately we couldn’t fit in a good sized walk in robe, so have opted instead for two floor to ceiling fitted robes. Each robe is bigger than the one we have in our current bedroom. We’re waiting for the hardware for the sliding doors, and for the panelling to make the doors. Paul undercoated the rear of the wardrobes on the week-end.

The wall panelling comes in various sizes up to 4.5 metres in length, only the 4.5 metres sheets weren’t readily available in WA. They‘ve been ordered from the Eastern states, and are due to arrive on Monday of next week. The guys have gone ahead with the shorter walls using the lengths of the panelling that were available locally. The plan is to have an eclectic/coastal themed room with horizontal panelling on the walls to both bedroom and bathroom. The wardrobe doors, and the ranch style, sliding door to the bathroom will be made with the same panelling, only it’ll be vertical.

Some of the acoustic insulation is in the longer wall awaiting the arrival of the bigger panelling.

As the wall hasn’t as yet been built where the roller door was removed from, the work site is out of bounds to a Mr Tilly during the working hours. It’s all open to the street, and he’s still to impulsive to be allowed near roads. At the end of the day Paul puts a make shift, hard cardboard wall up to secure the room from passers by, and it’s then that Mr Tilly gets to take a look. He inspects the room, seemingly aware of what has been achieved that day. He goes into the bathroom first, then into the bedroom carefully perusing every inch of the room.
Mr Tilly doing his daily check on the days work

It won’t be long now. The flooring and the curtains have been ordered, and we’re hoping the flooring will be going down during the second or third week in November, with the curtains a few days later. We’ll be wanting to get all the painting done prior to the flooring of course, so there’s still a lot to do. When it’s all finished I’m sure Paul is going to be looking forward to a good rest. Perhaps I’ll let him have a nice sleep in, in the new bedroom.

The perfect diet pyramid

I’ve been reading one of the most refreshing blogs lately, the blog of M.R. stringer.
(I don’t know why, but when I copy a link to someone’s blog it never seems to create a hyper link, so you may need to do a google search. I’m sure you’ll enjoy her refreshing, no bullshit way of writing as much as I do.)

If you want a laugh with an old lady who calls a spade a spade in the most direct possible way, you’ll enjoy some of Margaret’s writings. Currently M.R. is facing a dilemma. It appears she’s happily been living a vegetarian life style, eating lots of beans and lentils, with her one reported side effect being that these protein sources cause ‘lots of farting’, (M.R. definitely says it as it is). Only it seems there has been another undesirable possible side effect. Diabetes may be looming. I gather a high fat, low carb diet (I think Keto) has been recommended.

A few decades ago the in vogue radical diet of the day was Pritikin – do you remember that one. Virtually no fats at all, low protein and lots of high fibrous carbs (lots of farting I’m sure with that diet). I knew a dedicated follower of the diet at the time. He was slim and gaunt looking with dry, saggy skin. He didn’t look healthy at all. That diet went out of vogue, but a similar, slightly moderated version, the Aitkins diet, seems to have hung around. Some think it was these high carb diets that caused the high prevalence of the muffin top figure to emerge. You know the figure type, a waist the same size as ones hips, only soft with a tendency to spill over one’s waistband.

The Pritikin pyramid

The latest radical diet doing the rounds is the Keto diet. Exactly the opposite of Pritikin – high fat, high protein, and almost no carbs. The mind boggles – how could all of those dietitians and experts have got it so wrong!

Eggs were good for us for centuries, then cholesterol become the buzz word (still is). Eggs became taboo, then only egg yolks became taboo, it seems we could eat the whites, now we can eat whole eggs again. What was that all about! Liver, prawns, nuts, butter, dripping and lard all went by the wayside along with the eggs. Now seemingly, if we start consuming all those taboo foods, and in big quantities we’re going to be on the road to living a long and healthy life.

We’ve seen the Israeli diet, the grapefruit diet, the 5/2 and the 18/6 fasting diets, the CSIRO diet, the Mediterranean diet, and countless other diets come, and mostly go. The Mediterranean diet seems to have stuck around a while and seems to be one that most experts seem to agree is a healthy way of eating. I’ve looked at the Mediterranean diet, and I think another name for it is just a ‘good sense diet’, good honest food that will lend itself to any cuisine you desire to cook. A bit of everything, lots of veges, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats, a good quantity of seafood and fish, and some meat, dairy, and eggs. Why does that have to be given a name as if it’s a prescription.

The Mediterranean diet pyramid

I wonder what the populace of Central Africa would think of their diet selective, western counterparts, not much I suspect!

I don’t think there’s an end in sight to the comings and goings of these so called healthy eating plans in our affluent western world My thoughts are that those of us with expanding waistlines, and diseases such as type two diabetes that accompany the oversized girth (definitely me included, not the diabetes, but certainly the expanding girth) are merely victims of living a lifetime in a part of the world that offers plenty. I’m not sure if there’s been a generation before this current generation that hasn’t seen food shortages, I think we may be the first. We’re so used to having an abundance of food that when the possibility of shortages loomed earlier this year, what did we choose to buy – toilet paper! That’s how sure we are in our sub-conscious minds that an abundance of food will always be there for us. I’m sure the only thing that will stop the food fads and the bazaar elimination of whole food groups from our diets is for the western world to be hit by a famine, or another Great Depression. With the havoc this damned virus is wreaking in the northern hemisphere that may not be as far away as we think. Me thinks it’s time to stock the pantry with some more cans of beans and packets of lentils. There may be a time in the not to distance future when the fat around our girth, and the beans and lentils that we ‘doomsday preppers’ hoarded away are the only things that stand between starvation and survival.

To conclude I’m going to refer to something else I read recently. You can choose how long you want to live (no guarantees), or you can choose how you want to live. For me, I love my food, all of it. I eat a completely balanced diet. equal quantities of healthy, Mediterranean type foods, and on the other side of the scales, cakes, and pastries, and all the other bad for me crap that tastes wonderful. I figure without any unforeseen misfortunes intervening I’m likely to be around till I’m around 80. If I’m still around after that I’ll likely be a decrepit, doddering old git. At this point in my life I’m thinking 80 will do me. Whether I get to 79 and start to think, ‘I want more – could have, would have, should have done better’. Well that remains to be seen, but definitely for now I choose to live life on my terms, eating the foods I love. Food is one of life’s great pleasures, and Im going to enjoy it without guilt, all of it.

PS – I’m still not happy with the inconsistencies of WordPress – the photos above were put in, in exactly the same way, yet one is narrow and slim, the other two full sized. But I am enjoying the freedom of not trying to fit my own blog into a particular theme, and the freedom of just writing about whatever inspires me to write. I’m loving being able to create a diary of me, and for me, my thoughts and my life, without consideration as to whether or not my writings are pleasing to people following along.

Poor little babies

The guys were busy in the carport cutting planks for the renovations when they become distracted by a mother duck and her two fluffy little ducklings. They were running backwards and forwards under Colin’s car, looking cute as hell, but worrying the hell out of us in case one of the little ducklings should slip through the storm water drain under the car. Unfortunately, (or actually in this case, fortunately), one of the two did just that – plop and she was gone.

The hole is about a metre deep, and well cushioned with debris and soft sand. The little baby was cheeping away calling for mum, and mum was clearly very worried. Colin moved his car as we shepherded mum and the remaining bub away from danger. The guys had lifted the heavy grate in no time. Paul carefully jumped in but to his surprise there was not one, but seven fluffy little ducklings down the hole. No wonder mum had been running backwards and forwards under the car.

All but one had been rescued and re-united with mum. The remaining chick headed down one of the small offshoots of the drain. Mum promptly decided to lead her remaining seven babies to safety. Firstly she was heading towards Bussell Highway – not a good idea during the morning peak hour traffic.

I shepherded the family back to the scrub on the grassy verge hoping mum would stay near whilst we watched the drain hoping the remaining chick would find its way back to where it too could be rescued.

A few minutes later the traffic on both sides of the highway had stopped. Fortunately drivers keen to get to work weren’t in too much of rush to stop and watch a family of ducklings safely crossing the busy road. The little family reached safety on the other side, and continued on towards the wetlands. We still watched for the remaining chick, hoping she would return to be rescued.

I heard a few distant cheeps getting louder and louder. She peeked out but quickly shot back again. We gathered some thin cardboard to block off her escape route, hoping there would be another opportunity. There’s a maze of drains down there, and she could have headed off to who knows where. Clearly she remembered where mum last was though and out she came again. I patiently waited until she was well clear of the tunnels, before blocking it off. Paul again dropped down into the hole, and gently lifted and passed the last chick up to Colin, who placed it in a box we’d found for the purpose.

Paul set off with the frightened little baby safely boxed in his arms hoping to be able to track down its family. I’m pleased to say that about 15 minutes later he returned with an empty box. Mum and her babies had found the safety of nearby farmland. They weren’t keen on Paul approaching but he managed to get close enough to add the eighth duckling onto the end of the line and off they all went across the farm.

I hope they found the nearby wetlands without any more dramas. How fortunate the seventh duck disappeared down that drain before our very eyes. If it hadn’t I’m sure the other six would never have been discovered and rescued. A feel good start to our day that’ll have us softly smiling for the rest of the day I’m sure.

Composting without a compost heap

Perhaps I’m a bit weird. I love composting. I’ve never subscribed to the normal rules of composting, the layers of garden refuse, vegetable scraps, dry material and whatever else people suggest should be added in a particular order. I take a much more random approach, throw everything that once was vegetation into the heap in whichever order you come by them, all in together. Water if it’s dry, add shredded newspaper if it’s to wet, and add a bag of chook poo which seems to get it all breaking down. Turn it over whenever you feel like it, and take out anything to mulch the garden with that looks like it’s sufficiently broken down and loamy.

I’ve always just had the one heap perpetually going, adding to it, and taken from it on a weekly basis. It’s fascinating to see vegetable peelings, weeds, and spent plants turning from recognisable scraps into beautiful, sweet smelling loamy soil. I found out long ago that it’s best to look after the soil, and let the soil look after the plants.

Recently we’ve done away with our compost heap. Instead I’m trialling trenching. I save some of my vegetable scraps, but none with seeds – no pumpkin seeds, and definitely no cucumber or tomato seeds.
When I have enough I give it all a quick blitz in the blender with some water. It looks like soup. Then I use the trowel to scratch A trench somewhere in the garden and pour in the compost soup, then scratch the soil back over the top.

I’ve only been doing this for a week or two. Hopefully it’ll bring the worms and help the soil along. Time will tell – I’ll let you know how it goes.

A sea folly and other things

I’ve developed a bit of fondness for succulents. Whilst I was researching them last year I came upon a Succulent fairy garden built into broken terracotta pots. I decided to have a go at building one, only instead of a fairy garden I would follow my general decor theme of eclectic/coastal. Here’s what developed.

We already had the knarley old fisherman/lighthouse keeper statue (hard to see, but he’s to the left of the top white pot). We found his little home-made pottery cottage on line, and the light house, fish, and other coastal bits we picked up here and there. The big broken pot came courtesy of Bunnings. It was all a bit of fun. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep it, I guess for as long as it doesn’t look scraggly.

Here’s a few other things from around our garden.

A potted almond tree with three almond trees grafted onto the same trunk for self pollination. This is only the second season and already it’s bearing nuts.

A spiral succulent – mine is the one on the left. They have to get quite big to spiral properly. The one on the right shows how I’m hoping it will look as it matures. It’s been in about a year, and is just starting to get the spiral effect going.

Don’t ask what this tidy little creeper is behind one of our water features. It’s in a place that suffers from too much heat in the summer, and too much shade in the winter, so it’s hard to find things that will grow there. This one is from Bunnings, and doesn’t bear up well to close inspection. Our seating area is a few metres away, not close enough to spot the trashy reality easily. Perhaps I’ll just think of it as another folly.

And last but not least, my bed of asparagus. This was planted after reading a fabulously inspiring book called, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. If you haven’t read it, I would recommend highly. This is the second season since I planted the asparagus, so I have to wait one more year before I start to pick any. Then I should get more than ten years out of it – a definite indication of permanency.

And won’t it just be a pleasure to be picking our own home grown asparagus.

Putting down roots

I’ve just had a quick peruse through some blog posts of a blogger new to me. It looks like M.R. has been on a bit of a roller coaster with her living arrangements, and has, I think, landed herself in a place where she now finds she doesn’t want to be. It brought back a few roller coaster memories of our own.

In 2011 we moved out of our house of thirteen years. I won’t go into the reasons why we moved, suffice to say the move didn’t achieve what we’d set out to achieve, and not for the first time, I would have welcomed the gift of foresight. We had two houses in mind to move to. We chose the wrong one.

It took us 13 years to get this garden how we wanted it – then we moved.
A nice enough house, but it wasn’t the house for us

Two years after that move we’d found a block of land in Busselton. We sold our house of two years and found a new, rather nice strata unit in a block of ten. The units were age restricted (over 55). Our plan was to build on our block located three hours away, and to spend our week-ends and holidays in Busselton until we retired from the workforce and could move there permanently. That didn’t happen.

A nice little unit – but our path lay in a different direction

We had plans drawn up for the Busselton house. Problem was the land was close to the ocean with a shallow water table. There wasn’t mains sewerage through, but it was coming. No-one knew when, but it was coming. To build immediately meant a very expensive septic system was needed, and that system would need to be de-commissioned shortly after the mains went through. We decided to postpone the building.

Living in the units was proving to be less than desirable. Approximately half the residents were considerably older than the minimum age, and had been the first to purchase their units. They had moved in about a year before we had. The ones that were last to purchase seemed to be, like us, younger and still working. I’m not sure how that happened, perhaps with the units remaining vacant the method of advertising may have changed so as to appeal to younger people. The consequences were that the established residents seemed to be full bottle on all the rules, some real and some imagined, and seemed intent on the newbies towing the line as to how they thought the line should be towed. That didn’t sit well with yours truly. I hadn’t reached the grand old age of 57 to suddenly be told what I could, or couldn’t do. The Strata management Company were no help at all. In fact the management company seemed to favour the residents being at loggerheads with each other. I think the idea was that if we were fighting each other we’d never unite against them. Their fees were far higher than they needed to be, but while we were divided they had us conquered. (Reminder to oneself – never consider another unit with strata management!)

If the building of the house had gone ahead as originally planned the unit would have been tolerable. But with no date for building in sight, our thoughts turned to other things. One thought led to another, and it wasn’t long before we’d change course altogether. 11 months after moving into the unit, December 2013, we had sold it, and along with the unit, we’d also sold all of our household goods. We were homeless and living in our fifth wheeler at a caravan park. The plan now was to bring our retirement forward by four years. I finished up my little job at the end of 2013, and Paul finished up at his place of work in February 2014. We were going to keep the land and build much later, after we’d done a few years of travel. The plan was to pick up a bit of seasonal work as we travelled. We hoped to be travelling for at least seven years.

ah, now this was more my style. Something I’d dreamed of doing for as long as I could remember.

Mmmmm, that didn’t happen either. Don’t ask me why, this story is too long as it is, and it would take a book to relate all the reasons why the full time travel stopped and our course changed again. We sold the block In Busselton and we purchased a house in Tassie which we renovated.

Renovated kitchen in the Tassie house

We found a tenant for the Tassie house, put the caravan into storage and headed for England. Pauls dad was sick. We stayed for six months looking after him. He was still sick when we left, but immigration wouldn’t let me stay longer than six months. We returned to Australia and attempted to continue on with our Gray Nomad life. However Pauls dad really wasn’t doing well in the UK, and we anticipated more rushed trips to the UK. We were finding it hard to settle into the transient, nomadic lifestyle.

Putting down roots started to appeal again. We saw a little house in Busselton on the net. There were two possible problems with it, the first being it was age restricted (over 50s). This conjured up thoughts of rules, regulations, management companies, strata fees, and people minding every bodies business except their own. A little bit of investigation proved that wasn’t the case – no strata fees or management company and no special rules (with one exception – you must be over 50 to live there). We could paint, plant, extend, decorate or change the house however we wanted to without seeking any approval with the exception of normal government approvals. If we decided to sell, the house and land would be ours to sell without any exit fees. That sounded pretty good. The other possible problem was the house bordered a busy highway. We pulled up Google Earth and took a look. There is a big verge of trees and shrubs between the house and the highway. We figured that would provide a buffer to the highway noise, and so sight unseen we took a giant leap of faith and we bought it. We moved in, in October 2016.

I can’t say we settled immediately into the house, we certainly didn’t. The house is definitely free of any of the restrictions we encountered in the strata unit, perfect. The highway – well the traffic noise has been more of a problem than we’d thought it would be. Between adding more plantings and a couple of water features, and just learning to ignore it, that’s become tolerable. We’ve stayed put now for four years, and we’ve almost made the little house our own. Somehow by just staying in one place long enough, roots have automatically started to shoot down to anchor us. We’ve put a lot into our little cottage by the sea, and I think we’re now here for the long haul.

There’s good and bad in having lots of moves. You get a chance for a good clean out that’s for sure so that’s a plus. New places are exciting too. But moving is expensive, that’s definitely not on the plus side. For me though the biggest negative is not being around to see a garden that I’ve sweated over, watching it evolve from a drab piece of land to something beautiful, and then not being there to see it mature and realise its full potential. Or worse, a drive by that house that we once owned, and to see knee deep weeds where once my beautiful garden stood.

We’ve planted a couple of trees. They won’t be fully mature for at least ten years yet. I think we may just stick around and watch them grow.

Five year flashback

A couple of weeks ago a five year memory flashed up on Facebook. We were in Tasmania renovating our little old cottage in Deloraine.

Tom and Paul working in the gutted Deloraine kitchen.

History repeats. Five years on, and Paul’s again helping our local builder, Colin, with our latest project. He was dubbed, ‘youngest apprentice in Tassie’ then. Now he’s been dubbed the ‘youngest apprentice in Busselton’.

Colin builder the walls with his old apprentice helping where he can

I watch Paul watching Colin as his mind works overtime to learn. At the end of the day I can see he has a few aches and pain he didn’t have the day before, but I can see he’s as happy as a pig rolling around in the mud. It occurs to me it’s because our minds don’t grow weary with age, not as long as long as we’re not fuddled by disease or medication. We remain young and eager to learn, and eager to do. It’s only the aging bones that sometimes prevent us from keeping up with our spritely minds.

I think I can definitely see the young apprentice Paul once was as he watches the masters of this trade that’s new to him. He’s always had a healthy respect for people who have learnt a trade and apply their trade well. He’s happy to watch, copy, and learn a few new tricks from the masters of a trade. He loved his own trade as a sheet metal worker, a trade that relies on precise measurements and accuracy. That’s Paul, precise and accurate. The little bits of knowledge he picks up from other master tradesmen, makes him a great handyman to have around the house. I often think how awful it would be to share your life with a man who didn’t know how to put a screw in the wall. (Hope that doesn’t sound to sexist) Yes, for me its a real pleasure to be sharing my life with this jack of all trades and a well respected master of one.

A boy of a water feature

In readiness for the new bedroom we have purchased a water feature for outside the glass sliding bedroom door. Our little house is close to Bussell Highway, so when holiday times come, so does the traffic. Our new bedroom will be closer to the highway, so we figure a water feature outside will aid in creating a tranquil ambience that will rise above any traffic noise and aid a restful nights sleep.

As the traffic noise can ramp up considerably at times, our thoughts were, “let’s go big, there’s no point getting a boy to do a mans job”! We were up in Perth for a few days so chose a big water feature from Pots and More (three hours away from where we live).

With 6 falls of water and some falling a considerable distance we figured this was one big man of a water feature that would do an excellent job.

It wouldn’t be ready for pick up before we left Perth, and they don’t deliver outside the metro area, so we paid a sizeable deposit and arranged a pick up for a later date. The plan was to hire a trailer and do a round trip all in one day to bring it back. The pieces were going to be heavy, so getting them off the trailer at the home end was going to be a problem. We’d deal with that when the time came. We hadn’t anticipated the problems we’d encounter before that.

The day before pick up was due, we phoned to check it would all be ready and waiting for us to pick up at ten o’clock the next morning. “Yes”, we were assured, “it’ll all be there ready for you”.

We rose at the crack of dawn and were on the road by 7am, arriving a few minutes earlier than 10. No water feature, and no-one there who could operate the fork left. Never mind, we were a little early. No cause for alarm bells – yet! Fifteen minutes later the bosses son arrived. “I was told 12 o’clock for pick up” he says. Well that’s not actually what he said – every second word in that sentence was an expletive that I won’t put into print. Two hours we waited while he tried to find all the parts, swearing and cursing the whole time. I mentioned to the office girl that he wasn’t a happy chappie, but added that I didn’t blame him as it was supposed to be made ready for pick up the day before. Her reply was that he was the one that was supposed to have readied it for pick up. Mmmm, we were seething, but kept ourselves well in control. Self preservation had kicked in, and I’m sure any venting on our part wouldn’t have ended well. It was clear we were dealing with a rather unsavoury character, and from the language and attitude, I’m sure fists would have answered any venting without hesitation.

After two hours of searching I suggested that maybe we could just get our deposit back and call it a day. Yes he agreed. Only he wouldn’t reverse the deposit on the credit card, instead he’d arrange for the accountant to transfer the deposit back into our account. Alarm bells definitely rang. I suspected we’d never see our deposit of nearly $1000 again. I figured the best we could do is choose another water feature. Fortunately that idea met with acceptance.

He dismantled our second choice From the yard and loaded it onto the trailer, we paid the difference, and were in our way with a promise to ourselves never to return. Getting it off at the home end is another story. The base weighed approximately 600kgs, but Paul, and our kind neighbours managed. Phew, though what a job.

Here’s the new water feature. All set up in place and working. The garden’s fully planted around it, we just have to wait for it all to grow. It looks lovely, but being approximately a third of the size of the one we picked, only time will tell if we’ve bought a boy of a water feature to do a man’s job.