This week was like a jigsaw puzzle. Frustrating at first but satisfying when the pieces finally started coming together. We started the week with Brad the Builder installing some big glass french doors to the patio. Well actually they aren’t strictly french doors, but we call them french doors because everyone gets what you mean that way. Never let the technicalities get in the way of a good story, as the Irishman likes to say!
I developed an affliction called Builder Love. Which is when the sound of power tools on your property in the morning puts a “Yeeha!” on your face. It means something is getting done at Cable Car Estate! If I had my way we’d have a builder live with us permanently. I actually got anxiety pangs when I heard that Brad had to go on holiday to Queensland. But why? I whinged plaintively. We live in paradise Brad! You love it here in our house! Please don’t go!!!
The wisteria is blossoming everywhere and the house looks a bit hobbity, in a good way.
Ok now that the un-french doors were installed, it was time to move the piano. This piano is one of my favourite things in the world, a handcrafted limited edition Shigeru SKIII Conservatory Grand which was an anniversary present, but it was languishing in a corner of the kids playroom never having had its own space.
The movers had to build a ramp for it over the stairs and roll it down precariously on a ramp. It weighs about 350 kilos or so and the floorboards creaked and groaned dramatically as it rolled through the house. It was a nerve wracking experience but it looked splendid when it was finally installed.
Ta da! My repertoire spans Bach to Zedd to Nirvana to Chopin to the Plants vs Zombies theme tune on any given afternoon.
Ok now the tricky bit. We had to get the 16th Century Burmese buddha head off the ground. It weighs about 150 kilos but is also incredible fragile as it is made out of crumbling bits of 500 year old sandstone. When we first moved from Singapore, the Buddha cracked to about 50 different bits in its padded crate. Luckily we had insurance and it took a team of museum grade restorers in Sydney 2 years to put it together again. They did such a beautiful job you actually cannot tell where the cracks are.
After a lot of deliberation between the Irishman and our plumber Ross (“The Boss”), a wooden H frame was built around the bottom of the base and four men lifted it up on top of the drum table. It’ll stay there for now until we finish building its real home at our new entrance way.
As Dylan would say, Ta Dah! A much brighter living room. In the morning the sunlight just floods in from those doors and the whole place literally glows.
Just to give you an idea, the photo below shows the old living room when we moved in. Notice all the lights were on in the daytime. It was cozy but dark. About the only thing that’s still there is the ceiling! We replaced those two windows with the doors, took down the fireplace and the mud brick wall to the right.
This new living room extension used to be the old guest room in the house which was a real waste as it had the most beautiful morning light.
Ok now comes the real gritty part. After all the builders, movers and plumbers left, I found myself annoyed at the messy speaker cables marring my lovely new living room. So I decided to thread the speaker cables under the floorboards through the holes left by the wall radiators. Couldn’t be that hard right? After all the pest control guy and the plumbers go down there all the time!
So it was thus I found myself under the house, crawling on stomach and elbows with a torch in my teeth, through the tiny 50 cm high gap between our floorboards and the foundations of the house. This was not what my mother had envisaged when she paid for my law degree.
It was basically great piles of rubble, insects, moths and water pipes under the house. I had to crawl 10 metres in either direction from the opening to feed the speaker cables to either side of the living room. Just when I found the light shaft which indicated the hole to feed the cable through, I realised that my elbow was on a rather large, mouldy desiccated rat the size of a New York bagel.
My natural ninja reflexes kicked in and I jumped up in fright, knocking my head against the underside of the floor, which thus started a chain reaction resulting in 8 hairy Huntsman spiders being dislodged and clouds of damp dust rising up from earth like a zombie horror movie.
When I finally extricated myself from the crawl space, I pulled myself up into the living room covered in cobwebs and rat faeces to discover two gleeful faces of the 4 and 6 year old recanting the new colourful swear words they had heard emanating mysteriously from under the house. “FUK!” Finn crowed!!! “Mum said FUK!!!!!!”
I pulled myself up with as much dignity as a person wearing a pink hat and a cobweb covered old Juicy Couture sweatsuit could muster and pronounced “You are ONLY allowed to say that word if you are a MAMA AND if you are fighting the zombies under the house!”. That is that.
Oh how the sheep laughed.
I think we should look at lovely pictures of our garden now to recover from that little unpleasant incident. Look at these beautiful magnolias and lavender sprigs I cut from the garden! Bright shiny things. Look here!
So I held a dinner party to celebrate our new mini-renovation.
We had portobello mushrooms with our own organic asparagus and an anchovy, miso, chilli sauce. Salt baked snapper stuffed with herbs from the garden. Japanese slaw with a sesame yuzu soy dressing. Imogen’s lovely berry pavlova. We stayed up till nearly 2 a.m. in the morning and I played the piano while taking sozzled bizarre requests like “The Hippotamus Song”, the Australian National Anthem and “Tiny Dancer”.
Everything was in its right place. Except for the rat bagel.