28 September 2010

Poo trauma (again)...

It seems that we've had some septic problems again...

As always, we try to save our septic traumas for visitors and we're proud to say that we didn't let our current visitors down!

The lucky first visitor was Maria, who arrived in October/November 2009, all smiles and joy, enthusiastic about her stay. Within a few hours, we'd realised that we had no hot water, then no water at all, then a blocked septic system (read no sink/shower/toilet)! Maria kindly braved the week with us as we made regular visits to the local shopping centre toilets with increasingly oily hair and washed ourselves in bottled water.

This month, we saved the experience for Stu's sister Cheryl and her husband Ross. Luckily, we'd at least progressed to having the rustico toilet and shower available. Unfortunately, we now sleep in the house, which meant that our nightly visits to the toilet entailed stumbling down the stairs in the house, unlocking the front door, turning on the outside light, walking across the pergola to the rustico, opening the rustico door. One eventually found oneself in a position to be relieved but substantially more awake than is normally desired at that time of night.

We'd like to ask all future visitors to let us know the dates of their stays 6-12 months ahead of time so that we can be sure to clog our septic system and/or break pipes (whatever is necessary) in order to offer them similar fun...

13 September 2010

Tripping over each other and losing tools

For the 25 years that I'd been employed, one of the key issues at work had always been 'roles and responsibilities'.

I had appreciated the need for these to be clear for the purpose of efficiency and ownership in a work environment.

However, in our new 'unemployed' existence, I had to re-learn this lesson.

We'd been restoring the house for a full six months. We had largely shared roles because we believed this would relieve one person from being stuck with an 'ugly' task and it would also give us variety.

However, we weren't terribly efficient. We would get stuck under each other's feet, we would make more mess and we would lose more tools. We would feel we had the right to comment on each other's standards (usually negative). We would have a limited sense of urgency, no flow and no ownership of any task.

So about a month ago, we settled into jobs that suited each of us. There was no formal discussion and separation of tasks. It just seemed to happen.

Stu is responsible for bricking, plastering, carpentry, electrical and plumbing.

I am responsible for pointing, grouting, restoring, painting and decorating.

Our new 'roles' have eased our communication, made us more efficient and given us a new sense of ownership in terms of the restoration.

All those years at work were not wasted after all...!

On being grateful for each other

One of us (who shall remain unnamed) locked HIMself in the lower bathroom in the house this week.

While he was engaged in this pointless activity, I was cooking in the rustico. I was making two Christmas cakes and a Thai curry. Making my Christmas cake in September allows the fruit to vintage nicely before 25th December. The Thai curry was for a curry luncheon at a friend's house that day.

I had been at my cooking since 7.00am because the cake needed four hours to cook and we would need to leave at 11.30am for the luncheon.

At mid morning we had agreed to have our work finished by 11.00am to allow us to shower and prepare for the luncheon.

As usual, I was a little behind time so it wasn't until 11.15am that I looked at the clock and wondered why Stu hadn't come over from the house.

As I approached the house to investigate, I heard screams of the 'Catherine!' nature. They were pleading, desperate and very loud.

In his haste to re-hang the bathroom door which I had carefully restored, he had taken it from my 'paint workshop', secreted it to the bathroom, gently encouraged it onto its hinges and carefully closed it to check the fit to his frame.

Everything was perfect. It swung on its hinges perfectly. It closed perfectly. The room was warm and draught proof.

When he'd satisfied himself that yet another job had been done well, he had reached forward to open the door.

It was then that he'd realised the door wouldn't open.

When I finally found him in the bathroom, I received a volley of abuse because I hadn't heard him earlier through the six four-foot stone walls that separated us.

I wondered about his mental state. Surely, one should be grateful for a saviour, someone who frees one in times of entrapment. I walked away to allow him to 'get' the concept of gratitude. When I returned 3 minutes later, he was decidedly more humble.

He asked me to force the door. I felt like a cast member from a television police drama as I ran and crashed my whole body into the door.

It didn't budge.

I got a hammer from the toolbox and hammered around the lock where it seemed to be most stuck.

It didn't budge.

Eventually, we realised that the door latch had slipped into it's closed position and all we needed was the handle to open it. The handle was still in my 'paint workshop' so I dashed upstairs to get it. When I slid the smooth metal rod of the handle assembly into the hole in the door, it opened easily.