Before the renovations...
Getting ready for new paint...

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

THIS IS IT!!  The money has run out (and then some…just waiting on the final invoices) and the house is now as done as it’s going to get (for a while).

We’re VERY pleased with the colour – it’s exactly the jacaranda we talked about.  The small bits of cream (“Surfmist”) trim to match the new gutters and ridge rolls just lifts it that little bit; and the only places we ended up using the charcoal colour were the front and back stairs (well, you wouldn’t paint them cream, would you!)

We’d especially like to thank DARREN BAILEY PAINTING AND DECORATING for the lovely paint work – Darren and his team were professional and helpful and did a great job.

ADRIAN SPIES BUILDING CONTRACTOR and his blokes did a ripper job of replacing the ceiling bearers and putting in  beautiful new ceilings for us.

STEVE KAUTER ELECTRICAL did the new wiring for the lights and the smoke alarm.

And MALONE’S PLUMBING AND ROOFING CONTRACTORS have been wonderful – over the last couple of months we’ve had them doing some big jobs (the roof and gutters and rainwater tank, and fixing up the hot water system) as well as smaller ones (fixing the shower leak and replacing the kitchen taps). Misty and Joel and their team have been brilliant to deal with throughout the many processes – always promptly getting back to us and turning up when they say they will.

Most of all we’d like to thank my amazing parents, who have given us the wonderful gift of a house that is now structurally sound and weatherproof.  It means far more than words could say.

It’s been an exhausting process.  There were tears.  And we are going to enjoy sleeping in for the next few days since we don’t have to keep tradie’s hours!

There are still things that need doing inside – but those can wait.   There’s lots of cleaning up to do – windows that need washing, very fine dust that (hopefully!) will lessen now the big jobs are done, hiring another skip to get rid of all the accumulated rubbish.

But for now – ahhhhhh, it’s DONE!

More BAD NEWS … and some pretty paint!

So the painters started yesterday – YAY!!

And they found EVEN MORE TERMITE DAMAGE.   *headdesk*headdesk*headdesk*  Just when we thought we’d finally got all of it… here’s what the east wall looked like, once the paint was stripped back and they found that paint was all that was holding the wall together:

The termites ate even more of the house than we already knew...

The wall stud (? I have no idea about terminology and at this point I have just about run out of energy to cope or care!) that is the worst affected shouldn’t be too much of a problem, as the other ones around it are still reasonably intact.

LOOK AT THE FREAKIN’ DAMAGE those little buggers have done!

In close up - arrrrrghhhhhhhh!!!!

(As you can see, we don’t have any insulation in our walls, and that’s just Too Bad. At least now we don’t have termites in there, either.)

But – the painter is wonderful and has already replaced the weatherboards.  And a section of window surround at the front of the house that when they tried to sand the paint off just crumbled away. (Yeah, stop me if you’ve heard THAT before!)

I’m really really REALLY hoping that this is the last of the termite damage.  I don’t think I can take any more.

And the house has already had undercoat where it needed it and… big reveal…. the first splash of the new colour!

Late afternoon light, 1 coat of Dulux "Astro Zinger"

WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!  We’ve decided to just use the bluey-purpley-jacaranda-ish DuluxAstro Zinger” and match the trim to the ridge rolls and guttering (Colorbond “Surfmist”).  The charcoal we’d originally thought might be nice as trim just wasn’t working, except we’ll have a small amount of it on the stairs.




Books with termite detritus

Remember the ceiling bearer I showed you last post? When the builders tried to remove it, it crumbled into a gazillion pieces.  And even though they were very good about trying to work around our furniture that couldn’t be moved out of the way, and even though they used LOTS of dropcloths… when that much rotten termite poo comes crashing down, it goes EVERYWHERE.  I’ve just spent the afternoon cleaning off books and the bookshelves in this corner:

Every. Single. Book. has to be cleaned...

And I have run out of energy.  It’s not just the larger particles  – the entire house is covered in a layer of grit, which drifted down when the ceilings came down and dropped 50+ years of accumulated dust.  I (perhaps naively) thought the mess would be confined to the lounge and bedroom where the work was happening – nope.

I’ve just ordered a new filter for the vacuum cleaner – even though the Dyson is supposed to have a “lifetime” filter, after 7 years of hard work (and the recommended twice yearly washing), I can’t get it clean enough for the vacuum to work as well as it should.  Just another joy of renovating…



Oh dear…

Last night it rained.  And RAINED.  And RAINED. So much so that Easterpest (the annual Godbotherers allegedly drug and alcohol music festival that ruins Queens Park every year) got FLOODED and had to evacuate when one of the little creeks broke its banks again. We have problems with noise from Easterpest every year, and I hope this means that the organisers will FINALLY have to admit that Queen’s Park is not a suitable site.

Gaps that let in the rain...

However, our more immediate problem was that our laundry was also letting in water.  Although we now have a complete roof, parts of the old laundry wall were damaged in the process of re-roofing, and we haven’t had the builder here yet to replace them.

So we filled bags with dirty laundry and old towels and stuffed them in the gaps…

And then noticed one of the new gutters wasn’t secured quite well enough against the roof, and had bent away in the heavy rain.  Not Happy!  (Ah well, that’s why you don’t pay the WHOLE bill until everything’s sorted, eh?)


100 days on: exhausted… but maybe on the home stretch?

Today is 100 days since the “inland tsunami”, and the Queensland flood inquiry is hearing evidence in Toowoomba.  The blame game has started in earnest, even though there was really very little anyone could have done, in my (uneducated but common sense) view.

(I’m very glad I don’t have to have any involvement with all that – I’m surprised at how distressing just looking at photos of what happened here is.)

I am NOT having a Good Day.  I am tired and grumpy and not pleasant to be around.  I feel like I could sleep for a week, but instead I have to get up and be around when the tradies are here – just to make sure they are actually doing what the quotes said they’d do.  And I’m finding that exhausting, since the !@(&^!(*&^ fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue  really means I need around 10 hours of sleep a night. I don’t work tradies’ hours!

The noise of their tools isn’t too bad – but their yelling across the yard to each other, their taste in music (arrgh, I HATE trying to do stuff to someone else’s music – it makes it hard to THINK) and the incredibly annoying non stop barking of psycho dog next door – it’s all just TOO MUCH.  At least none of the current lot are smokers. (Just went back to the house and noticed the bloke doing the gutters was smoking.  Arrgh!)

[all pics clicky for biggy]

Old gutters in situ

You can see why we were anxious to get new gutters!

The old gutters, on the ground

And why they weren’t working very well anymore – between the silt and the rust, they’d really gone past their use-by date.

Beautiful new gutters - NO LEAKS!

Ahhh!  Lovely new gutters, in “Surfmist” – yep, another one of those times during renovation when you have to choose exactly WHICH white is the right white.

New gutters: about $2700.

Today the inside of the shed/studio was finished – there’s fresh new plywood walls all the way around (replacing the lining that had soaked up water in the January 10th inundation).  This was paid for by the insurance – yay!  Poor Mr Beloved has had to shuffle everything around several times to allow the builders access.  Tomorrow the new metal shelving will arrive (flat packed) and we’ll be able to start getting stuff back where it ought to go.

The front room - FULL!
The sewing room - FULL!

Both the front room and the sewing room have even more STUFF in them than usual because when the bookcases in the shed disintegrated, the books had to move into the house.  Mr Beloved made a heroic effort with a handcart and improvised ramps:

It's a long way to the top...

And in the next few weeks, the books will come back downstairs and into the new shelving.  It’s actually a much bigger job than that, because there are cupboards in the front room that aren’t really being used fully and would be better in the shed, and cleaning out the sewing room is a job that will take a few days on its own.

Tomorrow we’ve got disruptions to the INSIDE of the house for the first time.  The bedroom and loungeroom ceilings will be removed, two ceiling bearers over the lounge room will be replaced, and one ceiling joist at the rear of the house is also being replaced.   (Getting the room for the builder to move about is going to be interesting – there’s not really anywhere to move furniture around in the house!  He’s bringing lots of dropsheets…)

It will be lovely to have a new ceiling  – this is what the loungeroom ceiling looks like now:

Blue wall, patched ceiling

That’s the remains of the plywood ceiling with some cardboard and masonite covering the worst of the termite holes.  All the other ceilings in the house are 2″boards, but for some unknown reason the bedroom and loungeroom ceilings were plywood with pine coverstrips.  (Perhaps the builder couldn’t nick any more 2″ vjs when it was time to do those rooms!)   The termites just loooooooved them, nom nom nom.

It’s another one of those things that you just get used to, but I will be so glad when it’s fixed.  We’re cheating a little bit – these days, you can buy mdf that looks like vj boards and that’s what the builder will be using.  Eventually we’ll get around to painting the new ceilings.

He’ll also be replacing  this rotten fascia board at the front of the house:

Front fascia board to be replaced

With the new gutters, we won’t have the leaks which caused the board to rot and grow moss…

The builder’s also installing two extra timber joists under the kitchen floor to stop it moving about quite so alarmingly.  Cost for all that? About $4000.

See how quickly it adds up!  Yikes! And we’re still got a couple of other bits I need to get him to quote on – putting some weatherboards over the fibro at the back of the house where the laundry has been tacked on, and fixing some of the eaves – (we don’t do ladders, remember?!) …

But in good news, it looks like we will get the painting done.  YAY!!

We had windy rain last night, and even though the gutters were all off the house, we had no leaks.  Phew!  And there were no more of the ominous creaks that we used to anxiously listen for on stormy nights – the house is really feeling so much more SOLID than it ever has.  Such a relief.


Grate! (Bubbler/overflow for new rainwater tank)

So – aren’t you all just FASCINATED by this picture?  Yep, it’s a photo of a hole in the ground!  Well, not quite – that’s the bubbler at the end of the trench for the new water tank.  Mr Beloved will be planting a herb garden around this.   One more thing ticked off the Giant List Of Things…

Whirlybird on roof


And in more news that’s possibly only exciting to us  – we now have a WHIRLYBIRD!  We don’t have insulation in the roof, and we found those rotted ceiling bearers – so decided a good option was this roof ventilator.  Keeps things cooler and drier.  Again, sadly, one of those things that’s not immediately obvious for the dollars spent, but I think will prove worthwhile.

The new roof is (almost) finished!

And the house now has a shiny new roof!  (Very difficult to get a picture of it, as I Do Not Do Ladders.) All the new ridge capping is on, and we can face the predicted rainy weekend without worrying.  Phew!  Just as the roofers were leaving this arvo, the kookaburras started laughing – a sure sign that we will get rain in the next 24 hours.

On Monday – gutters!

Renovations and mental health

A journal page








[clicky for biggy]

So.  Lately I haven’t been feeling very creative – in fact, most of the time I’ve been just trying to cope with the disruption that comes with any renovation – let alone one as unplanned and uncertain as this one has been. Any journal pages I’ve done recently are just too private to share (and would probably be boring for you to read, anyway!)

I adore watching “Grand Designs” – and always said to myself that if ever I had the chance to build a house, I’d have everything specified before the first sod was turned* – these people who are all wishy washy with their plans and want to change the placement of entire rooms (but the plumbing’s already done!  Arrrgh!) have me shaking my fist and the tv and my head in wonder. How could they let themselves go so far off their original plan, and so far over budget?

Finding something that needed fixing on site – earth that was mooshier/crumblier than expected, a site that needed extra conditions for planning approval – I could understand how that blows a budget.  And I’d feel sorry for those Grand Design people,  where things were genuinely out of their control.

And I feel a bit like our house has been out of control.  The renovation keeps popping up unexpected expenses.   As I’ve mentioned before, we are EXTREMELY lucky and grateful that we can afford to fix things that need fixing – I just wish that we didn’t keep finding even more stuff that needs doing!

Case in point:

Laundry roof off









The laundry, loo, pantry and patio are all additions to the house – but built in the same style as the rest of the place: that is, by an amateur with materials that were probably stolen from one of the nearby timberyards.  And because things weren’t done properly, and because the poor little house has been owned by poor people (including us!) with no budget for maintenance, things have Gone Wrong.  And now they Need Fixing.  Note the batten that doesn’t reach all the way across in the laundry roof picture…

Patio roof with new metal battens @$6.90 per linear metre, excluding labour...








Still, we’re getting there.  I’ve been very anxious and when I get anxious, I can easily spiral into panic, and then I have ideas that I can’t breathe (exacerbated by a snuffley nose from allergies and general dust) and – I struggle.

One of the most useful things my psychologist has been working with me on is self compassion.  And last visit, she told me about the Struggle Switch.  Such a simple idea – pretend that on the back of your neck there’s a switch, and a dial.  So you can reach around and turn off the struggle switch, and turn up the willingness dial.

The other tool that’s been really helpful is a short journal list that I’ve printed out onto pretty scrapbook paper and bound with two rings – I first saw it on Jule Fei-Fan Balzer’s site, but I know she got it from someone else (but I can’t remember where!)

my "Currently" journal;





It’s a quick way to take stock of what’s happening right now –  a useful mindfulness tool.  I don’t write in it every night, but when I do, it’s very calming.  The words down the side are: weathering, listening, reading, drinking, wearing, feeling, wanting, needing, thinking, enjoying, wondering.

It sounds almost too simple to work, but slowing down and writing answers to those 11 questions is often enough to stop the panic from spiralling.

And here’s another two important parts of my life that keep me going:

Mr Beloved, and Connie J Woodle with a ball in her mouth



*And when I did build a house, way back in  – hmmm – 1988? I had everything done in ONE visit to the spec builder’s office.  And we only needed one change once the build was in progress – and that was hinging a pantry door on the opposite side so it made more sense.


And it continues…

We’ve had rainy weather on and off for the last week, which has been very frustrating as the roof has been half finished!  New tin is slippery, so even the slightest mist of rain makes it too dangerous for our tradies to be up there. And every day our solar cells are offline costs us money. (Seriously, our electricity bill was cut by about two thirds once we got the solar hot water system and the Photo-Voltaic cells that feed power back into the grid.)

This was our lovely red mud yesterday:

Rain rain go away!








[all pics click for bigger]

(The waste carpet is an attempt to mitigate erosion under the worst of the gutter leaks; the waste plywood against the fence is to stop the psycho dog next door charging us every time we go out the back door.)

Today, happily, we’ve even got some blue sky:

Laundry, sans roof!
Pantry nook, no roof

So our roofers are hard at work.  Yay!  There’s still so much to do – it seems that every time I look around there’s something else that needs fixing.  Case in point: when the main roof of the house came off, the roofer drew our attention to 3 ceiling joists that were so badly damaged he could throw handfuls of shards down.


We’ve got a quote from a builder to add new ones alongside (you really can’t take the old ones away!) and replace the ceilings in the lounge and bedroom, which were plywood and also desperately needed replacing – now I’m just waiting for him to get back to us with a start date for that part of the project.

We’re hoping the hot water service will get fixed tomorrow (fingers crossed the materials arrive), and the solar panels and the new guttering can get put on.

Next job after that is probably the painter… provided nothing else (touch wood!) goes wrong.

Still hoping we’ll have enough for at least some new kitchen, even if it’s only a couple of cupboards/drawer units and new benchtop … a new sink and taps would be lovely, but sheesh, have you SEEN the prices?  They range from under a hundred dollars to THOUSANDS – seriously, people, it’s a spout, water comes out of it – how can that cost thousands?? Why does ANYONE need a spout with colour changing LEDs in it??

(I might still be a little cranky after being severely sleep deprived yesterday – we had more power outages overnight, and when there’s no power my CPAP machine doesn’t work, and so I go into full on sleep apnoea, with hundreds of wake cycles per hour.  Not fun for anyone – and as a friend reminded me, potentially serious, because apnoea can kill.  Eeek.)

I’ve also had to buy a new phone this week – my poor old ultra basic model (it couldn’t even get picture messages – sooo last century!) died.  And the sim card died with it.  Arrgh!  Fortunately I was able to get a good deal on a new phone, that now even gets the internet – woo hooo!  (And I’m on a cheap cheap plan, which if the phone company stops providing will mean no more mobile ‘net – ah well, the joys of poverty!) and replacing the sim card while keeping the same phone number turns out to be simple.  Who knew?

And our electric frypan died.  Arrrrgh!  Because we don’t have a working cooktop (we have a stopgap portable two electric hotplate thingummy) we relied on the electric frypan for a lot of cooking.  *sigh*  At least we know that the safety switch works!

So – fingers crossed that nothing else goes wrong this week.  Still waiting to hear from the smash repairers about the ding in the car  – the insurance claim can take a while.

And I’m heading  off for another cuppa – I don’t really get moving til my second tea of the day!

Breakfast - vegemite toast and tea


Strange things in my garden…

Well, technically they’re not IN my garden yet – they’re kind of hanging about waiting for the various tradies to be done, THEN we’ll sort out the garden.  No point while things keep getting dug up and dragged about…

Saracenia and bonus!

Here’s a (not very good) shot of the new Saracenia Psittacina (marketed as “Gobble Guts”!) we bought from Bunnings yesterday – I picked this one because I noticed the bonus sundews (Drosera Spathulata) which were a type we didn’t already have (Mr Beloved has a dab hand with the carnivorous plants, so we have a few…)

And I have a great fondness for these Echeveria – I’m looking for a “Hen and Chicks” (Echeveria secunda glauca) but happened across this gorgeous “Black Prince” at the nursery today – the chocolate colour was irresistable!

Echeveria Black Prince

The echeverias and some other succulents (which IMHO aren’t nearly so pretty on their own, but work in a bigger scheme) will eventually go in pots out the front of the house, where there’s concrete that we Are Not Digging Up (because, well, if you’ve ever done it, you know why!)

I’m even thinking of drawing up an actual PLAN for the garden.  Mr Beloved has decided a patch that gets full sun and now has the bubbler/overflow for our brand new water tank in the middle will become the herb garden.

The old tank, in two pieces
New tank








The new tank isn’t completely connected yet, but the pump is wired up and the piping and tap are in.  We’ve even had some rain to start filling the tank! (Which has also meant delays in getting the roof finished – but that’s another story.)

We already have some lovely dwarf grevilleas along the front fence, and  chillies along the side of the shed.  So they have to stay.  But the rest is up for grabs, and especially in the back yard where we don’t ever want a repeat of the flood water rushing across the yard, we’re thinking about what to put in.  Maybe a vege patch … but the Small Dog would like some lawn to play ball on, please!

Play BALL!