With the front yard and porch cleared, I’ve finally installed a couch in the front made out of rainbowfish7‘s futon mattress and some old quite solid vinyl couch makings.

So here I am writing this sitting on that couch taking in the afternoon winter sun and trying not to squash the cat (who has taken up more than her fair share of course). The pc setup can be better, I have the window open, the monitor swivelled around and the keyboard and mouse cords stretched as far as they can go but I’m not quite as comfortable as I could be. Bluetooth cordless mouse and keyboard? Or just some extension cords.

And maybe a swivel monitor stand with extendable arms.


My house renovation project seems to have hit another activity period.

This weekend was surprisingly productive. I’d ordered a six meter square skip for Saturday, the second one so far, and with the help of hippygeek had finally gotten rid of the pile of concrete, bricks, old floorboards, bits of kitchen cupboards and mouldering carpet that had been sitting in the front yard for the last five or so months, since the last activity spurt. To my surprise, a fair amount of the carpet had actually decomposed. So, now I have a cleared front porch and an empty front yard, devoid even of lawn.

I’d also had a builder look at fitting in the double door jams for two pairs of double doors which have been leaning against my kitchen wall for the last three or so months. I’d originally intended for only one set to be fitted but he was so reassuringly competent and confident that I promised him I would get rid of the last of the lathern plaster in the rear living room wall so he could fit in the second pair. After all, the skip was there and it looked like there would be ample space after the front yard was emptied.

Unfortunately, my estimation appeared incorrect, the front yard pile took up the whole skip except for a small part at the end, roughly a meter cube of space. After a bit of dithering, I went ahead and started taking the plaster out anyway, I figured that I would take down meter wide strips until the rest of the skip was full.

Four hours later at around 7pm or so, the whole rear wall is in the skip, most of the house, including myself, is covered in fine plaster dust and I’m finding it difficult to look at the skip without an absurd feeling of accomplishment.

Now that the housing bubble looks like its deflating at about the same rate as my starry eyed ideas of being a handyman and learning lots of DIY, I’ve been beset by doubts about buying this place. I havent helped matters by masochistically continuing to look at real estate listings and discovering that fully renovated places are starting to approach what I’ll end up paying for this place after my own renovations are complete (if ever).

But looking at the skip and the kitchen wall, the empty front yard, the porch, the big pile of rotting lillypilly branches in the back yard, I felt that if I had bought a house I didnt need to do anything to, while I wouldnt feel the constant background anxiety of constantly having things that need to be done and organised and built, I wouldnt also be feeling this good either when something actually gets done.


Over the weekend I managed to get some movement on the house renovation project.

The neighbour’s lilly pilly is now so fully fruiting that its branches are resting on my roof, filling the gutters with its brilliant red berry-like fruit. Yesterday, I got out the ladder and severely pruned the tree, loping off most of the low hanging branches and digging out the partially composted fruit. When I was done, the side passage of the house was covered with enough of those squelchy staining berries to fill a wheelbarrow. And I had loped enough branches off that I could build a large mound in the backyard.

The other task I completed was moving out most of my stuff from the storage shed (but not sorting it, all the boxes of old computer and camping equipment are piled in the hallway) and replacing it with the skirting boards that had been sitting in the north facing front verandah for the last six months waiting to be processed. There’s space now for an outside couch to sit in and bask in the winter sun.

I enjoyed the work. There’s something immediately satisfying looking at a pile of things that I’d moved from one pile to another. Maybe because I dont have to do it again, at least not for awhile.


There are many words for the structural components of a house. I’ve had to learn a number of them since I started living in this unrenovated Californian bungalow probably built in the 1910s.

The foundations are secure now I guess. It’s been restumped, many meters of bearers and floor joists have been replaced and the entire floor is new – newly polished and newly scratched.

But everything else is cracked. While some of the internal lathen plaster walls have survived ok, there are a couple of walls that need to come down and those that can pass muster need to have cracks filled in, new paint splashed on, everything made good before the skirting boards are replaced.

The skirting boards are old, greatly painted over into an aubergine like colour. Some have splintered in the removal process. I am tempted to just slap them back on. As winter closes in, this will become more and more likely. Currently from within, I can peep under the external walls and watch the lowest 5 cm of the outside world pass by.

There isn’t a bathroom or an inside toilet. The bits and pieces are scattered around in the storage shed and garden awaiting a new plaster wall inside and a plumber. Instructions were miscommunicated, new holes need to be cut, old holes filled and piping re-laid.

And I haven’t even looked at the roof yet. It looks ok from the outside. The colorbond metal roof isn’t too rusted. The roof line is straight now that the house is level. But some of the gutters should be replaced. And during windy nights, I think about cutting off some of the neighbouring tree’s lower branches.

There is other work to be done too. But as the days get shorter and darker, I cannot see myself doing more on this place. My heart has moved away, my visions and plans for it dimmed. My work mentioned a six month Darwin stint which, at my protests, changed to a week with most work done remotely from Melbourne. A part of me regrets their swift response.