Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I'm afraid to ring my husband

... because he'll either burst into tears and dribble mucus all over his computer or grab the meteorological nerd nearest him and rip him a second - or even third - poo pipe.

In a series of renovations that have been going for (checks diary) FOUR months now, we are - or were - looking at the home (see what I did there?) stretch. Our renos have moved slower than honey on a sponge, leaving us to live, eat and entertain in our bedrooms and occasionally streak outside to use the porta-shower.

I was moaning to Love Chunks the other day about how, in times of stress, the home is normally a 'haven' but ours is full of tradies with blaring radios, cigarette butts strewn all over the garden, dust, gravel, wood shavings, BO, Maccas wrappers and badly painted walls that need to be redone (when the stupid, slack clown has time to come back of course). No inviting lounge room, 'come to me' kitchen, 'divine' dining room or 'total spa experience' bathroom to sulk in.

This coming weekend was to be the end of it. Full use of all of the rooms in our home, the end of dust and no more miniskips clogging up the garden. Today, Gary (7 cups of strong black coffee every day) and Sean (just water, thanks and do you mind if I have SAFM playing at over 100 decibels for at least eight hours so that you get to hear Good Charlotte, Deltra Goodrem, Kylie Minogue and Silverchair at least 10 times each) are out there working their little hearts out on the pavers which are looking great.

Some delivery dude turned up (whilst I was in the midst of an argument with someone from the cruel castle of Hellfire and Recrimination) with a huge cork noticeboard for Sapphire's room. He checked out our wrought iron screen door and remarked, "Nice, very nice door. Did ya get that from 'Iron Curtain'?" That we did and it cost about as much as the contents of one of Britney Spears' nostrils thank you very much.

The third character in my Tradie-Trifecta turned up at 10:30am. Affable Steve set to putting the floating floorboards together in the living room, and I silently jumped for joy at the thought of no longer having ground-cement-dust trod through the house. Steve admired our newly-polished old wooden floorboards in the original part of the house. "Yeah, they were the only time we actually had to move out of here during the renovations," I said, prouder than the eco-conscious owner of a dead front lawn. "We spent a salubrious week in a cabin in the Levi Caravan Park for these babies."

Steve set to work, cutting boards on the front verandah, dodging the licky affections of Dogadoo (she loves a quick lick of a tradie, especially if they're crouching and reveal a bit of builders' smile) and, in between coffee runs, I could see what wonderfully quick progress he was making.

I phoned Love Chunks. "The floorboards look GREAT. Maybe we can go and look for that plasma telly you've been yearning for this weekend seeing as the living room will be ready to go by tonight."

(Smacking forehead in a literary sense): Stupid Stupid Stupid! I should have known NOT to get over-confident and assume that all interior renovations will be finished by the weekend! Predictably, Steve tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to come and look at the floorboards. He explained, to my sinking expression, that he had been given one third of an older shipment of boards and two thirds of a new shipment and, despite being the same company, range, colour and width, they didn't, erm, match. He'd also been told by his boss that the next shipment of the newer batch was still on shipping container out on the sea somewhere and not expected to turn up to the world's largest island until a fortnight or so.

By this stage my bottom lip had drooped so far that Dogadoo was sitting on it. I nodded, said the expected phrases of, "I know it's not your fault Steve", "Thanks for telling me, I can see how this must be frustrating for you, too," and "I appreciate that you weren't just going to shove two ill-fitting types together and hope like hell we wouldn't notice" etc, but inside I was thinking, 'What the hell is Love Chunks going to say?' This renovation process has, for him, been more time-consuming and frustrating than a 3000-piece jigsaw puzzle being knocked off a card table with only one piece left to insert.

I left it to him to rant and rave at our builder to coordinate an alternative floor board colour or layer or company or whatever, and decided to take a more passive and grounded approach.

What are the all important rules of renovations? I present you with the Tradies' Testament:

1) Your renos will be completed in the fullness of time, or as per the will of Allah. Or, when we can fit it in between larger, and more money-making jobs such as entire housing estates or even just one house from scratch.

2) We tradies reserve the right and will to arrive at *any time of our choosing* between midnight and noon if we say 'morning'. Alternatively, we are entitled to turn up at one minute past noon right up to midnight if we tell you it will be 'some time in the arvo'.

3) Despite our somewhat elastic appointment times, we tradies won't wait for anyone. If you are on the bog, trying to wipe onion juice off your hands before answering the door or two blocks away coming back from walking your daughter to school we may not deign to step out of our utes before deciding that the house is empty and bugger off again.

4) We will all carry enormous mobiles with incredibly groovy ring tones that we will continually interrupt our conversation with you to answer. That doesn't mean, however, that we will feel compelled to answer our phones when it is you ringing them.

5) Near Enough Is Good Enough. If you don't notice the fly we've permanently lacquered to your floorboards then neither will we. If the toilet door is varnished with about as much care and cover as a Jordan mini-dress you should be grateful: we're in demand, after all. If a kitchen cabinet is installed upside down and in direct opposition to the ten other doors alongside them, we will feign cupboard blindness (this appears to be like colour blindness - the inability to notice any workman faults that are apparent to even the imbecilic home-owners among you).

6) If you don't like it, you can shove your poncy degrees up your arses and go get an apprenticeship yourself. At least then you'll be able to send a fifteen year old off to the post office to ask for a 'verbal agreement'. Har Har.

July - our underground rainwater tanks!

Since then - bugger all rain

August - Sapphire playing 'Queen of the Castle' on the topsoil removed for the tanks

September - our 'huge' (read: 1.6m by 2m) bathroom. It was touch-and-go as to whether we'd just make the room an entire plunge pool instead - it would certainly make life interesting for any unsuspecting house guests.
October - Sapphire wins first prize at her friends' Halloween party for going dressed up as "Daddy after he's vaccuumed up the cement dust that's seeped into our bedrooms for the tenth time."


River said...

So is ANY part of the reno done to completion? Do you have a working kitchen yet? Love that picture of Sapphire on the dirt pile. I have a photo of my granddaughter Emily on top of the dirt pile when they levelled the block at Crafers to start building about 8 years ago. My daughter and son-in-law extended last year, he's in the building trade so was able to do a lot of the work himself. Hope your tradies get their act together.

davey said...

Sounds painful. It's just not your week is it mate?

I often marvel at the poetic justice that is the blue collar revolution. To think that during school we were all encouraged to into more 'respectable' and financially beneficial industries such as IT, Law and Medicine.

Now the law grads are realising their job are soulless, the IT nerds are wondering what industries have women, and the surgeons, well, they cut up bodies for a living.

Meanwhile, although working their well sunned bums out, the tradies are coined up and sitting pretty. Smart arses.

franzy said...

Last week I was having a conversation with two other degreed-up types about the nature of the brainy careers we'd chosen.
"Who'd work in a uni?" one laughed. "I'd rather be a hairdresser."
"Oh yes," said number two, without a pause. "I'd actually much rather work in a florist, you know, playing with flowers and stuff, it'd be great, much better than this shit."
We all stared at each other for a moment. No one was joking.
"Mechanic," I said. "I always wanted to muck around with cars and engines."
No silence is quite so still as that which accompanies the realisation of the futility of around ten university degrees...

Milly Moo said...

River - the kitchen and bathroom are now complete except for the crap painting that the 'professional' has to come back and do properly.

You're right Davey - my Dad never wanted me to take 'typing' during highschool saying it'd only lead to secretarial work and not uni. One of the first things Love Chunks taught me (during our Grad Dip Ed year) was how to touch type at Uni...

Franzy, I agree with youse all. Not sure what my BA (english) or Grad Dip Ed (Secondary) or Grad Dip Business (Management) has done that's made me any more respected, revered and awed than a decent plumber in demand.....

redcap said...

I feel your pain, Milly. We renovated a few years ago, but thank fark we had somewhere else to live while it was happening, so we didn't have red brick dust in our dacks every day of the week. We also did a lot of the work ourselves, which was way unfun. Now we're trying to do things like replace fences (ever tried to get someone to give you a quote on removing asbestos, let alone try to get three quotes to put up an actual fence?!). It just saps your will to live.

Deep Kick Girl said...

I can not believe how long your renovations are taking. Renovations are a total nightmare and you have my complete symapthy. Every time there's a light at the end of the tunnel it's just a train heading your way. LOL (hysterically)! Sending you good vibes and hoping it's all over before Chrissie.

Rosanna said...

Oh my googness - renovations sound absolutely painful, but Saphire's costume makes it all worth it. What a hoot!