Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ever get that sinking feeling?

Well it’s been a while since my last blog entry and a lot has happened since then for sure.  We settled on the house on the 7th July and have finally moved in 3 ½ weeks later.  We had a bit of a heart stopper an hour before settlement. While driving towards the soon to be ours country home we get a phone call from our solicitor to say that they where just notified that some builders works that where carried out on the home 9 years ago never received final approval and that as the new owners we could be liable for anything a that need to be done in order to rectify this. Now of course the worst cast scenario crosses my mind.  If there where serious building violations we could be forced to demolish the entire back end of the house and rebuild. So our happy and excited drive out to pick up the keys turned into a stress filled journey. I sat there dumbfounded while my husband made frantic phone calls and uttered four letter expletives to the world.

As per procedure a solicitor searches for any new building work that may have been carried out in the past 7 years and checks that all inspections where completed, so as this issue was 9 years old it did not turn up in the search.  After finally getting hold of the building inspector we find out that there where a couple of issues in the framework initially along with a few other minor things and that a final inspection was never completed to make sure these problems had been fixed.  We also found out the reason for these issues was that the previous house owners had hired a builder that was for want of a better word a dodgy. They had applied for an owner builder’s license and hired this guy to do most of the work.  Turns out he was an alcoholic and tried to take a few short cuts in his work.  One being that fact that he should have levelled the existing part of the house first before building the extension. Instead he just built the extension level with the back sunken part of the house. So we have a dip in the floor between original section of the house and the extension. But in the end when you buy a house that’s over 100 years old you gotta expect some problems. Anyway it turns out most of the issues where minor. The only thing we are still waiting on is a stat dec. from the previous owners to say that the frame issues were rectified.  We are hoping this will be done soon..

Since then we’ve ripped out the old carpets, had the any damaged floorboards replaced and polished. We’ve connected the house to the mains gas line which  luckily for us, mains gas has just been added the local area. The stovetop was previously connected to gas bottles, which cost a fortune to re-fill. We were also fortunate that we managed to cook on what remained in the gas bottle left right up until mains gas was connected.  So didn’t need to pay for a refill. So one day soon as well we’ll get gas ducted heating done as, but we’re not in any rush. I mean we got through the coldest months already snuggling under blankets by the fireplace, which is not a bad way to spend a cold winter really.  We’ve had the driveway widened so we can accommodate the boat without needing to move it every time we need access to garage/shed.  Currently we are working on the shed itself so that hubby can have a working space that secure and no longer leaks.  There’s lots more we’d eventually like to do the place but for now, we just wanted to fix what needed to be fixed and make it a more user friendly place to work from home for hubby and myself.

On a more exciting topic today is the day as my new Mini Diesel Countryman was delivered to our house and by that I mean the type or brand of motor vehicle.  We didn’t just go out a purchase a small country-person. :p  I haven’t even started it up as yet, I’m a little nervous, it being a new car and all, so I’m waiting for my husband to get home he can accompany me on its maiden voyage. The controls are a bit different to what I’m used to as well. The indicator stick thingy (that’s the technical term for it) if on the left hand side, so that will take some getting used to.  And the windscreen wipers and heads light turn on and off automatically when required. Fancy huh?  The day I got my license I walked into our previous house to hear my husband on his mobile saying ‘She got it, organise it’. So of course I replied ‘organise what?’… The new car that was delivered to day as it turns out. 

My new wheels
This is actually the key... the round section plugs straight into the dash to start the car... cool huh?

Monday, May 23, 2011

“I can't help but ask myself how much I let the fear take the wheel and steer…” ...‘Drive’ by Incubus

I sometimes think I am my own worst enemy. I mean honestly, I really don’t need others to make me feel I cannot do something, I do a good enough job of that myself.  Self-doubt and fear sometimes has a way creeping into my mind, pulling up a chair and making itself comfortable. So taking the step to finally learn to drive was a huge deal for me. Every time I thought I should really learn to drive I’d always tell myself I was too afraid and couldn’t do it.  The older I got, the more afraid I got.  Maybe this is because most young people believe themselves to be invisible and have a ‘that could never happen to me’ mentality. Unfortunately or possibly fortunately, I never held this belief myself.

As I have mentioned in a previous post I lost my  Grandfather many years back, due to a serious car accident. The events of that fateful day forever tattooed in my memory.  I was only 10 years old at the time.  My brother and I where attending the Phillips work Christmas party (the company in which my Mum worked at the time) with My Dad’s cousins wife (who also worked there) and her kids.  My parents where not with us as they were to attend a wedding that day.   My dad’s cousin showed up at the end of the party to pick us all up. I can still see the expression on his face and remember the way his hands where trembling. Then his wife asked what’s wrong. He said ‘there’s been an bad accident’ He drove us all straight to the hospital. On the way to the wedding another car had hit my Grandfathers car. The other vehicle drove straight on into in a driver side door  and therefore straight into my Grandfather. My parents had been in the car following behind and because of this my Dad saw his own Father get hit. I didn’t know the details as yet so I still didn’t fully comprehend how ‘bad’ it all was, We walked the long white hallway on way the ICU and could just make out the blood shot eyes of my family standing at the end.  Mum took my hand and said ‘do you want into to go see Papa’. Of course I did…and in I went… what I saw next made me physically nauseous. There lying unconscious in the bed was my beloved Grandfather. Life support keeping him alive. Terribly bruised bandaged and battered. Tubes filled with blood running into his chest and later on holes that had been purposely drilled into his skull making parts of his brain visible in order to release fluid build up/ brain swelling.  Now this is an image that tends to stay with a kid. From a young age I had seen first hand the consequences of things that can go wrong on the road.  So unlike most teenagers I was never itching to get my drivers license. In fact the thought of it terrified me.  It took a long time for Grandfather to regain conciseness and even when he did it was a while before he even he could even recognise us again .He was left with permanent mental and physical injuries that eventually got the better of him. After two years of fighting for his life the medication he was on during a hospital stay had caused serious stomach ulcers that burst and ended his life.  My Dad got news first and called home, My brother answered the telephone. The sound of my brother’s tear filled screams …‘Papa’s died! Papa’s died!’ is something I will never forget.

Over the years that followed, two more people we knew died is car accidents. Family friends lost their son at the age of 21 when his car slammed into a light post and my brother lost a school mate who was actually hit when he pulled over to the side of a highway during a bad rain storm. All these events only adding to my fears.

So really it wasn’t until another tragic event the ‘Black Saturday’ fires back on Feb 2009 did something finally convince me that it was time for me to conquer this fear. Hubby was away in Echuca for the Southern 80 boat races and that’s when the proverbial hit the fan. I was not able to contact him all day to tell him to drive home another way, as most communications had gone down. I was home alone listening to all the reports on the radio and the seeing all the smoke in the distance was making me start to worry. Feeling that for the first time in my life, I wished I was able to drive. The thought of trying to flee a fire on foot with two dogs really hit home. This would not do!  It was a not long after this that I started to do some research to see if I could find a place that would allow me to drive on a track first, before driving out on the busy roads.  I figured the last thing I needed was to get into a situation where I felt so overwhelmed that I’d never want to do it again. Baby steps, my dear, baby steps.   Luckily I found a place not too far away and organised my first lesson with a wonderful driving instructor. I giggle now at how the car windows quickly fogged up from all the nervous heat/energy that must have been flowing from my body.  I think I had two or so lesson there before venturing out onto the roads.  Had a few set backs here and there one being terrible bout of Chronic Bronchitis that had me out of action for a few of months. But I got there in the end and it is now official that today, at the ripe old age of 35 I have finally gotten my driver’s license.  I was saying to my instructor the other day, that everyone one has something they are scared of be it, spiders or heights etc and driving I guess was my 'something'. Then she said to me yes but at least with those fears you only have to confront them once in a while, with my fear it was something that I had to confront everyday.  Which I guess is very true. Driving will never be something I love do to, but at least I now know I can drive when I need to, Yes the ‘fear’ of driving is no longer there, but the awareness for what can go wrong on the road will always be there and will hopefully make me a safer driver because if it.

Eddie Fisher

Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so wonderful
Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so good
No one could be, so gentle and so lovable
Oh, my pa-pa, he always understood.

Gone are the days when he could take me on his knee
And with a smile he'd change my tears to laughter

Oh, my pa-pa, so funny, so adorable
Always the clown so funny in his way
Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so wonderful
Deep in my heart I miss him so today.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A ‘Green Gables’ of our very own…

It’s full stream ahead now, the old place is sold and we officially settle the new place on the 7th July 2011. The ‘new place’ is really quite an old place, built during the Edwardian era.  We have been told that it is one the oldest houses in the town and therefore is quite an historical home.  Being that, I think that the house deserves to be appropriately named.  Now I could quite easily name the place ‘Green Gables’ as this is the first thing that pops into my head when I look at the place, but even though I would love to call the house this, I somehow feel that I would be doing the house a disrespect by doing so.  We have been told that the house was originally the Presbyterian Manse and was located at the back of what was once known as Smiths Paddock. Once we move into town and will have to confirm these details with local historians before making a final decision on the name.  In which case the name ‘The Old Manse’ comes to mind. Another thought crossed my mind too.  I remember hearing once  (must have been somewhere back in my schooling days) that peoples surnames in those days often referred to their profession.  So I am wondering if  ‘Smith’s Paddock’ might be referring to the fact the house/land was owned by a blacksmith? Well I guess only a bit more historical investigating will tell us for sure, until then the house will remain nameless. 

Can you see why 'Green Gables' came to mind?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dreaming of greener pastures…

I often hear people say the next house they live in will have a larger this, and a more modern that. But by ‘Upgrading’ to a more expensive home do we not also upgrade the size of the financial burdens that tend to go hand in hand with such a change.  Don’t get me wrong; if you can afford it go for it, but too often I see people getting in over their heads trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. So much of what was in the past was considered a luxury or a privilege is now considered a right or necessity.   The older I get the more I feel the exact opposite to this. Downgrading the size of our mortgage & reducing our overhead costs to me anyway, equals an upgrade to quality of our lives.

So now with our current house in the suburbs officially on the market, this dream is one step closer to becoming a reality.  Now I’m not going to put all my eggs into the one proverbial basket.  Sometimes things don’t go as planned. So if our house does not sell for the right price (and by that I mean a price that will make this whole thing financially viable) we will stay put and happily so. I really do love the suburb we currently reside in. It’s lovely and quiet with hilly tree lined streets. We also have lovely neighbours.  It’s just that the financial burdens of staying here could make setting up the business from scratch that much more difficult.  But push comes to shove we will deal with whatever life and the Divine himself has in store for us.

Here are pics of the current house we live in.  We have pretty much fully renovated it with the exception of the rather scary mission brown bathroom.(which I will not be including a photo of :P ) Simply ran out of time and money and besides, the bathroom can be something for the new owners to put their own personal mark on. There is also a 4th smaller bedroom that we use as a study/office.

Street Font View of our home

The lounge room

The Kitchen

The Dining Room

The Main bedroom

Spare room 1

Spare room 2

The back deck

The back garden

Monday, February 21, 2011

O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I'll tak' the low road…

Life has a way of taking us down paths we never thought we’d take. For some time now hubby & I have been talking about relocating ourselves and the business, north to either the Sunshine Coast or Cairns.  Basically, somewhere warm and humid and out in the country.  The humidity up north keeps my allergies at bay too, which allows me to enjoy warm weather.  We where also looking for a property large enough for my hubby to work from home as hiring factory/shed space can cost an arm & a leg. As we will be starting a customer base scratch, the less overheads we have the better. There is only one major problem with this plan… Cane Toads!  Now this is worrying as we have two terriers that chase, catch & kill any critter that dares set a foot, wing or antenna on our property. I have witnessed many a stalking and killing of mice, birds & even insects. It’s like a National geographic special around our place sometimes.  Attempts David Attenborough voice-over…’Watch as the tiny terrier stalks his (or her) prey…’ violent pouncing  & killing scene ensues.  The poison secreted via a cane toad’s skin can kill a dog within 15 min and small dog breeds such as my dogs, account for three-quarters of reported poisonings. With cane toads numbers constantly on the rise this is a real concern.  

After many long discussions we have decided it would be best to delay taking the high road (the road north) and instead take the low road ( the road south) instead.  The other benefit of this being we will still be within a couple of hours drive from family if we stay within the state.  Of course now there was the problem about deciding whereabouts in the country we should move to. Hmmm, well the first place that came to mind was Healesville. The downside to Healesville being that we’d be moving further away from the water & towing a boat 2 ½ hours just to get to water just ain’t fun.  Then another area came to mind, the Gippsland Region. (Partly because an old school-mate of mine, you know who are :P, has recently bought a farm in the region) After a few google searches & map scourings I spotted a town called Leongatha & found that it was the largest town in the region.  A larger town suits would suit our needs as we need to be able to receive regular deliveries of Ice machines  & parts etc. and as we are not looking to have a working farm we didn’t want too much land to maintain.    Leongatha is a town in the foothills of the Strzelecki Ranges, 130 km south east of Melbourne. It takes just over 2 hours to get in Melbourne if we ever needed to.   The suburb as the added bonus of being about 21 mins to Inverloch (the sea)  & 50 mins to Port Welshpool. (also the sea)  We would most likely take the boat out at Port Welshpool as our boat quite a deep v-shaped hull & the boat ramps are better suited there.  Not to mention the fact that I have heard that some of the best fishing in Victoria is to be had at Port Welshpool.  Bonus!

A couple of days ago hubby rings me up and says let’s go have a look at the area & see what it’s like. We went to a local real estate agent and asked him to show us around. He took us around the suburb and showed us around 10 houses. We loved the final house we looked at and the next thing you know we put on an offer for a HOUSE! (Subject to the sale of our current house of course) We just fell in love with the town. So provided they accept our offer and also provided our house gets sold for a reasonable price we may be Leongathians in the near future. Now it's a bit of a mad rush to finish painting this house and get it on the market for sale. We have always been like this.. even when we bought current house, we saw it ..loved the feel of the place and put in an offer 10mins later.

I have spent the better part of this morning getting requesting removalist quotes, contacting local conveyancing solicitors, e-mailing real estate agents and accountants and trying to find a local floor polishing dude or dude-ess in ‘Gatha’ (as I have informed it’s called by the locals) as we would like to rip up the carpet & get the floors polished before moving all of our furniture in.  All while trying to not get too excited as nothing is official until both house’s reach settlement.  Now to spend the rest of the day dragging furniture around so that the painters have room to finish painting the remaining areas that we have still not painted. They start painting Tues morning! Yes, we decided to get someone in to do that considering the time restraints.  It’s never boring around here let me tell ya!

Argh my brain hurts… !!!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

When it rains it pours…both literally & figuratively

Ok I’m starting to think 2011 has it in for me It's only the first week of Feb and so much has already gone wrong this year. The story so far...scary once in lifetime floods in Brisbane, so I spend the first few weeks in January worried about family there. We finally get word that not only is everyone is ok, but their houses where safe too.

Then I hear about more scary torrential rain and floods in Sri Lanka, so I spend the next few days worried about family there until get word that everyone is ok there. Phew!   

Then I find out that my cousin’s little baby boy is in hospital with some unknown illness. so I spend a few days praying madly once more and worried about him until I finally get word that he is improving, and is now back to his usual smiley self. Thank goodness.  

 I’m not a superstitious person but what is it they say?, Oh yeah bad stuff happens in three’s so I’m thinking things can only get better right??? Wrong! .. Cyclone hits northern Qld.  Now a year or so ago we went on a family trip to Cairns & my hubby and I fell in love with the place. I remember saying to my family that at the end of our holiday in Cairns that first time I felt like I was not going home, but leaving it. So hubby and I decided we where going to build a house in Redlynch (a suburb of Cairns). The house finished being built in Oct 2010 and we are renting in out until such time as we decide to move in ourselves somewhere down the track. So anyway 3-4 months after the completion of said house. A category 5 cyclone hits far north Qld.  As for damage to the Cairns house, well we are still in the dark about this as we have been unable to get in touch with the agents looking after our property since the cyclone hit. Completely understandable as so much infrastructure is currently down.  I figure I will just pack this worry away in the back of my mind until I know if there is actually anything to worry about. 

 So then crazy weather makes its way to Victoria last night, (The state in which I presently reside) and flash-floods occur all over the state. Water starts slowly leaking into our lounge room, pouring out of some of our external light fittings in the eaves of our house, and the garage also gets flooded. So I think ok.. breath …shit-happens &  lots of people are worse off than I am right now in Oz (i.e. Australia), so we lay down some towels to soak up the leaky water & I contact the insurance company.   

 Once again I think surely this must be the last of the bad news… but alas no… just got a call from my hubby to say that he is been involved in four car pile up on the Westgate bridge..  My first question to him of course being ‘Are you ok?!!’ & thankfully yes he is.  Double Phew.. or is that quadruple phew? I dunno.  Anyway it appears the car behind him pushed his van into the car in front. This is a bit of a double whammy as his van is his livelihood.    

 So as I sit here breathing multiples sighs both of frustration and relief, and blog-venting or possibly ‘benting’ or ‘vlogging’, I can at least console myself in the fact that through all of these trials and tribulations that life has thrown at me, in the end, everyone I love has remained safe… & that’s gotta count for something.

 Added note: 8th  Feb 2011… Camels back just broke I think…

Firstly, my brother is ok, but he's just been in a car accident too! ... Similar accident to my hubby, was hit from the back.  I am dumbfounded by the events of the past few weeks…