April 12, 2010

Taking Back the Yard

You know, I'm glad that after writing what was going to be the first two paragraphs of this post I got up and had lunch. Because on the way back to my desk I realised I was writing a tersely-worded whinge-fest. So I've deleted that last lot and will blog instead in a good mood, backed up by a belly full of Vickie's chook soup.

First reason to be cheerful? What Blind Melon started to complain about: No rain. The monsoon season was keen to hang on until the bitter end, with nigh-constant downpours right up until Easter Monday; since then it's been mostly sunny. This means we can get stuck back into the garden.

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March 12, 2008

Wet Wet Wet

Yep, it’s been pretty much like a Scottish boy band here over the past pair of weeks. A monsoonal trough moved in and dumped so much rain last week that I wound up getting in late for work on a couple of days. Roads south were cut for a while by floods and we even sandbagged around the back doors just in case the inch-deep water over our back patio started creeping toward the house.

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January 28, 2008

Ten Fantastic Days

It’s been a great ten days off work. Vickie, thankfully, cracked the whip and got me cleaning and tidying up before the arrival of the Cazman and his lovely lady Linda, and we got the spare room looking great for them. Although we weren’t able to spend much time with them as we’d hoped, we just appreciated their company the more. I didn’t know, for example, that Linda was part Chinese, nor that she has a hilarious, trash-talking competitive streak, which came out during a few games of Uno! Speaking of which, I’m starting to think Uno is more fun than Chez Geek.

I fully intend to do a better job of keeping up with these two (ideally using Skype a lot to cut down on those pesky phone bills) and I’m sure Vickie does also. We also (yeah, yeah, I know, but it reads better than “in addition”) must get back in regular touch with Caz’s Mum and Dad. We got a great Christmas letter from them!

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January 08, 2008

Watching Paint Dry

The renovation of the spare room has gone much better than we thought. Vickie especially was dreading the removal of not just the wallpaper but also the carpeting. When we did the other rooms, we had a hard time with the glue paper that went between the wall and the paper, and the removal of the carpeting in the computer room revealed a foamy substance (I know it has a proper carpeting name, I just can’t think of it right now) that we had to buy huge scrapers to deal with. That was a nightmare.

In the spare room, though, the carpet came up with no trouble, and the nail strips holding it down came up with just a little chisel-work. The glue-paper was a dream, too; a good spray of water and it just came off in long strips with a razor-blade scraper. Karl undercoated the room and primed over the nastier stains, but he and I shared a lot of the work; puttying holes, putting the top-coats on the walls, sanding after each coat and cleaning up the dust from the sanding. I took to the skirting board, door- and window-frames with the enamel paint. An electrician has taken the old wall lamp fittings over the bed head off and installed the new ones we bought. All that’s left is to clean and sand the floor, then cover it with vinyl tiles. Oh, and move all the bedroom furniture back in from where we have it stacked in our dining room.

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December 02, 2007

Weekend In The Garden

Vickie and I are making progress in getting the garden in better shape. This weekend was intended to be a big blitz, but soaring temperatures at midday gave us baking afternoons, so we've had to get as much done in the morning and evening as we could. That's been quite a bit, thankfully; we've dug up some roots that were interrupting our sewage line, turned the soil in the vege patch over, cleared away a lot of debris (Vickie especially went gangbusters on the fallen leaves).

Of course, I had fewer diversions to distract me. My Xbox 360 has finally packed it in; on Friday night, whilst playing Mass Effect, it froze up, and when I powered it off and on again, the dreaded Red Ring of Death appeared on its front panel. Repeated attempts to resurrect it on Saturday were fruitless, so I called Customer Support this morning and am waiting on the e-mail from them so I can send it in. Actually, if the e-mail doesn't turn up by tomorrow morning I can probably get away with sending it in early; I have the form from last time and the current call log number. Still, best to wait; Microsoft might've changed its contracted repairer in the meantime.

The latest really annoying thing was that today is Karl's birthday, and I was planning to take my 360 over his place, network it to his Elite and have some multiplayer Halo 3 and Burnout Revenge action. So much for that.

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November 18, 2007

Guba and the Garden Bed

At the beginning of the last post, I mentioned a weekend of garden work. There’s a very big, very good reason for all the green-thumbed activity: Tropical Cyclone Guba, a weather system that’s been hanging around the Coral Sea for the better (or should that be worse?) part of the last week. So far, it’s done us no direct harm, just a lot of cloud and almost as much rain. Still, it is a cyclone, and we’ve been keeping a keen eye on the Bureau of Meteorology’s updates. Over the past four days or so, it’s meandered its way from off the Papua New Guinea shores toward the Penninsula, wandered vaguely south then east, picked up intensity from a Category 1 (Thursday morning) to a Category 3 (Friday evening) then all the way back down to a 1 again (this afternoon). It’s done at least two U-turns, the most recent one putting it back on rough course for the Australian coastline, and current forecasts suggest it’ll meander its way in a curve back north again – away from us, thankfully.

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November 03, 2007

Gardens and Gamorreans

The 360 went in the post to Xbox Customer Service on Wednesday, so with any luck I should have it back by mid-November. I doubt I’ll have any trouble; Podge’s 360 got all Red Ring of Death on him a few months ago and he got it back in fairly short order (the refund of the repair charges took a little longer, though).

Which has, of course, given me more time to get some other things done. The first is to get back into the garden; I mowed the lawn and fixed the fence of a smaller garden bed near the front gate that we turned over a couple of weeks ago. Tomorrow is whipper-snippering and clearing the yard of dead leaves (not to mention dog poo – Vickie’s granted me the household title of “bomb disposal expert”).

I’ve also got back into RPGs. I think I’ve already written that the “Prelude to Defiance” module I played at Spring Revel Down Under back in October had me keen on playing some more. Well, thankfully I have my chance. On Saturday October the twentieth, I trooped up to Edge Hill to get together with Simon and Cristel, Patrick and Tracey, and Sam to make characters and do a touch of world-building for the Star Wars campaign I’m going to run using the Saga Edition rules. I’m pretty happy with how we went, although I still think I could’ve done a few things better.

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September 23, 2007

Bedding Down in the Back Yard

I've been talking about the garden beds we're putting in down the back for a little while. It's high time I showed you!

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August 22, 2007

Inch By Inch, Row By Row

Yesterday I filled a couple of pages in my notebook with topics I wanted to post about. Most of them relate to matters pretty firmly within geek territory, so I thought I'd start with the one situated on the other side of the border, the Mexican topic, if you will.

Vickie and I have had the plan for a while - okay, let's be honest, Vickie's had the plan for a while, I've mainly agreed with it (mainly 'cos it's a good plan, but partly because complaining about the amount of physical labour expected of me will lose me the respect of both sides of my family). The plan is to put a vegetable bed in our garden and grow all our own vegetables. We're already doing pretty good in terms of fruit, with our orange, mandarin, pawpaw and grapefruit trees; we've also got a lychee tree, but with its age and recent history of pruning it's be a miracle to find any lychees on it.

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August 08, 2007

The Cure for RPG Nerves

Over on the MySpace page, I mention that I’ll be running a roleplaying game session on Saturday week. Instead of contacts I’ve made through the hobby, though, my players will be friends to whom I’ve explained the hobby and who expressed interest. I, of course, worked myself up into a bundle of nerves after sending out the invitation – yes, the usual “giving up gaming” crisis – and Vickie prescribed a course of yardwork. She’s been going like gangbusters in the yard while I’ve been at work this past while, and last weekend was my turn to do some honest work for a change. I wound up helping Karl cart around forty concrete sleepers from his stepfather-in-law’s place to our yard, then yank up our hardwood sleepers- most of which had rotted through – and take them to the place of a friend who has a pit in his backyard that needs filling. We still need to get the concrete sleepers in and bedded properly, but that’ll most likely be a job for this weekend.

Anyway, now that the usual panic is over, I’m looking forward to Saturday week. I know of at least one of the people I invited is really looking forward to the day, which, if Vickie is amenable, means I can run something like The Shadow of Yesterday. I have the feeling that InSpectres is going to be the game of choice. It’s always been the go-to game around here for introducing people to roleplaying games because it’s an almost-guaranteed fun generator.

May 14, 2007

Dangerous Dog

When I called Vickie earlier on, she told me she’d had another visit from a Council inspector. Ziggy has been officially listed as a dangerous dog, and we need to get the fencing situation sorted out as soon as we can. We also need to buy a muzzle, which he’s not allowed off our property without.

Vickie’s called some fencing places, and most reckoned they wouldn’t be able to get out to us for at least another six weeks, and that’s just to provide a quote. Thankfully, one place is sending someone out to take a look on Wednesday, so with any luck we should be able to move quickly. The inspector was happy with Vickie's assurance that, when not inside the house, we can keep Ziggy safely in the side run, so that's bought us some time. Still, we need that fencing done sooner rather than later.

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May 04, 2007

Laundry List

Okay, enough of this Gamerscore-fuelled babble. Time for a change of subject: Renovations!

At the moment, the Big Project is the laundry. For those who’ve not been keeping up, we’ve not technically had a laundry until recently. For years, our laundry has been an annex of the lounge, a space on the southern side of the lounge room that was divided from the main living space only by a chipboard cabinet and later by a pair of pine bookshelves.

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March 27, 2007

The Week That Was: March 2007

The new loan I mentioned a couple of posts ago came though, so we spent around a grand and a half on Sunday. First, we dashed off to the annual Home & Lifestyle Show, where we bought a new vacuum cleaner and a back massager (which I think Vickie will find invaluable). After that, we nipped over to Bunnings where we got a petrol-powered whipper-snipper, some new towel rails for the bathroom and down-piping for the gutters on our entertainment area. On that last, it looks as though I’ll be doing some digging fairly soon; we want to try and re-run our guttering from the backyard to the road. It’s already cracked in at least two places.

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March 08, 2007

Priorities and Scheduling

Now that I’m past yesterday’s minor bout of depression, let me have a look at what’s on my plate at the moment and how I want to organise it:

  • First and foremost, as always, is Vickie. Our recent lack of readies means we’ve not been getting out much. This weekend we’re turning that around by going out to see Wild Hogs, as I mentioned. I don’t want that trip to be a flash in the pan, though, and after going over our income and budget again, we’ll be able to afford to go out more often. We have some friends who we’ve not seen in a little while, so it’s about time we made some phone calls.

My other priorities are, in no particular order:

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November 04, 2006

Our New Dining Room

As promised a couple of weeks ago, folks, here's our new dining room:

The New Dining Room

As you can see, the room is virtually finished. The only parts remaining are to put some archetraving over that dark line above the air conditioner on the back wall.

We were planning to fill the larger wall on the left with family pictures, until Vickie remembered some very artful leaf pictures in her stash of picture files. She printed them out on photo-paper and we went on a shopping trip to The Warehouse in Manunda and Big W in Earlville to pick up some picture mat and frames. A little over $60 later, and you can see the result:

A Wall and Five Pictures

We think they do such a good job on their own that there's no need to break the wall up any further!

October 29, 2006

Dining Rooms, Dogs and Fences

It’s been a busy week. I managed to put the finishing touches on the kitchen painting – there’s a little more we need to do, but we have to wait on Karl’s help with another sheet of Villaboard before we can really finish off. In the meantime, though, we shifted the furniture back into the dining room, which we’ve laid out in a much better fashion; the dining room table, formerly up against one wall, is in the middle of the room and we can get around it and the other furniture without a problem! Vickie made some very nice pictures for the dining room wall, and we had a minor splurge on Thursday night on some good picture frames. I’ll get some photos of the new setup!

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October 14, 2006

Gamers in Court

The kitchen and dining room are almost entirely painted. Actually, the kitchen itself is done, aside from a couple of touch-ups. The dining room still needs a little work, though; the skirting boards need a thorough sanding-off before they can be painted. There’s also a vertical trim in each corner where the dining room walls meet that needs a good smoothing-over. I’ll get those jobs done this weekend; we want our dining room back soon!

Still, we’re going to be a little busy. Today at midday, Vickie and I are meeting some local gaming friends at the Courthouse Hotel for lunch and a few games of Chez Geek; Vickie once said that a few of the people coming will probably be glad that they'll just be meeting people without the expectation of having to play an RPG session. It’ll be just seven of us today, Vickie and I included, but I’d like to make it a regular, maybe monthly thing. Getting together with friends has become a tricky proposition lately, not just because of the renovations; I think people’s schedules are getting a little more crowded. Having something regular that you can plan for in advance would help people keep in touch.

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September 25, 2006

We Have Our Living Room Back!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen; thanks to some dilligent and hard work by Karl (with assistance from yours truly), we now have our main room back and looking far better than it did a couple of months ago! Our furniture is all back from Karl's and we're slowly re-assembling the entertainment appliances; I'll be spending this evening re-organising the cables behind the TV in order to prevent another rat's nest. Once we've put some decorations up on the walls, I'll take some photos for you folks.

The deadline pressure is off, although we wish it weren't. I got a call from Dad on the weekend; Heather had called him and told him that she'd just been in to see the doctor with eye problems, which turned out to be a burst blood vessel. She's in the public health service waiting queue to have it seen to, and until that happens she can't fly. It's a bugger, as we were all looking forward to Heather being here, but at least it ddn't happen midair. I've been meaning to give Heather a call; she's too old to go to pubs and tell the football supporters that they're all Southern pansies.

So the week of leave I was taking before she arrived, whch we were planning to spend frantically dusting and clearing up, will still be spent frantically dusting and clearing up, but in addition, we'll de-wallpaper and paint the kitchen and dining room (another long-overdue job).

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September 19, 2006

Renovation Progress Report: Living Room and Laundry

Well, after the last RPG-heavy post, it’s high time I got back to more practical matters. We have been going heavy on the renovations this weekend gone. As Karl didn’t have to work he spent most of Saturday and Sunday at our place.

The project of focus is still the living room. As our reno budget is close to exhausted, we’re leaving the kitchen/dining room and bedrooms for a little while. I want to get stuck into those after Heather’s visit and Vickie’s birthday in early October (Heather arrives on Vickie’s birthday and flies down to Sydney a couple of days afterward). That reminds me – time I started seeing about some birthday presents for assorted family!

Okay. The living room. I talked about it briefly in a post a few months ago, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually explained what we’re doing down there and why. There were two main problems with the living room as it was. It’s an extension on the original home, and that’s where the first problem comes in: the extension was built using cinderblock, large concrete bricks that aren’t entirely bad for building houses with (I’m pretty sure they’re what everyone’s building “the Modern Queenslander” with nowadays), but the interior often gets left with just a lick of paint; the overall effect in many modern houses is reminiscent of a prison. As for us, we were getting a bit sick of looking at pink brick all the time. Also, the cinder blocks in part of the back wall were turned on their sides, so the pattern of gaps faced into the room and out into the garden; the interior face of this section was covered by a loosely-fixed sheet of wood ply, to which were attached glass shelves (eep!).

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September 11, 2006

King of the Mountain

It’s been a busy few days:

Friday and Saturday was the Cairns Amateurs, a horse racing carnival treated with all the pomp and pageantry of the Melbourne Cup (on a local scale, of course). Naturally, The Cairns Post has a big representation there, and as every business who’s any business is also present all of the Post’s ad reps spent Friday there, with a rotating schedule for Saturday. Yours truly was left to man the phones; thankfully I had a backlog of bookings to keep me busy. I was asked whether I could help out on Saturday, but with a weekend of renovation work on the cards, I had to decline. So everyone else went and got pissed without me.

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July 25, 2006

Another... erm, Wood Panel in the Wall

Well, it’s been an interesting few days since my last post! To start with, Karl has spent today and yesterday at our place, putting new walls in our lounge room (so that the laundry will actually be a room of its own now) and the bedroom (removing the thin divider and old, shabby wardrobes between dressing-room and computer room, so that we can put new shelves and racks in). The work he’s done so far is nothing short of phenomenal; we had a solid wood skeleton for the laundry wall and doorway by the time he left last night, and I imagine he’ll have similar in the computer room tonight, He’s also going to be putting battens on the rear wall of the living room and wood-sheeting that wall and the other three. We still have to figure out what we’re going to do about the surround sound speaker cables…

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June 26, 2006

Shiver Me Timbers...

Sheesh! Been a bit of time since I last posted.

First thing I’ve been meaning to post about for a little while: We’ve done some more renovating. Remember that photo of our front verandah I put up a while back? Well, Karl and his brother-in-law David took to the main vertical supports with a chainsaw and knocked the rotting slats and handrail out with a sledge. They then put some stainless steel wire and tubing that we bought a couple of months ago in.

Thursday and Friday before last, Vickie and I took to the wood decking of the verandah with a belt sander – well, actually, Vickie did most of it on the Friday. Trust me, I would have gladly done some, but if you know Vickie, you know that when she decides she wants something done, she won’t bother waiting half a day until the other person who could do it gets home from work!

I made sure to do my bit, though; I went into Bunnings Cairns, bought two tins of decking oil and a lamb’s wool applicator and spread it on the now-bare surface of the deck. I was hoping to get the wood uprights of the fence painted yesterday (we need to take the stainless seel tubes down again to do so), but unfortunately it decided to rain on us.

Still, the front deck is already looking much better! I'll take and post some pictures once I get the painting done. We also got some more decking oil last weekend to give the deck another coat.

January 30, 2006

clunk WHAM "Fuck."

The good news is, our front room is almost put together again. The painting in there has been done, we've repopulated the bookshelf and the computer desks have been put back into place, with all the cables neatly (well, semi-neatly) sorted and off the floor.

The bad news is that, in the process of tidying the cables, plugs and powerboards up, it seems I managed to break the power unit for our Speedtouch ADSL modem somehow. I have the feeling I may have let the unit fall to the floor after I unplugged it from the powerboard. It would only have been a foot or so's distance, and usually those things are fairly rugged.

I know it's the power unit and not the modem itself, as after I re-organised everything I had the plug for the modem in the Netgear router and vice versa; the modem worked while the router was offline. When I put the plugs in the right devices, the router started working while the modem wouldn't power on.

So, everything else is working, we just can't get to the Internet from home.

I'm going to be calling Telstra tonight. I would've done so last night except I forgot that the support line is open 24/7 and I was buggered after getting all those cables sorted out.

January 14, 2006

Painting the Computer Room: Almost Done

Finally, here are the photos I took of the emptied computer room:

Room before Painting

So, no carpet, no floor padding, no wallpaper or glue paper, just bare floors and walls. (You'll note the perspective is from the other end of the room than the one I took the Before photos from.

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January 10, 2006

Still Painting

We've employed Rhys, Vickie's grandson and an experienced house painter, to give our computer room a coat of cocoa parfait (a light coffee colour) paint. He arrived bright and early this morning - while I was out walking Zelda, in fact - and is getting the job done as I write.

The computers, of course, have been out of commission since Saturday. with any luck, we should be back online tonight, but I'm not counting on it - even if the painting gets done, I have the feeling the room wil still be quite paint fume-y for a day or two. Vickie's taken measures to reduce the smell, namely a bowl of vinegar on top of one of the bookcases, and it's succeeded; the only place that particularly smells of paint is the PC room.

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January 03, 2006

Empty Room

I wish I could post the photo of the front room as it looks at the moment, but as our PCs are still both in our bedroom, I can't upload the photo from our camera. Suffice it to say, though, that the front room - the one in the last two photos in my previous post - is absolutely bare at the moment. We decided that, while we had everything out of the front room so that we could tile the floor, we'd also take the old, peeling wallpaper off of the walls and prep the room for a paint job.

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January 01, 2006

Scraping and Tiling

How are you all spending your New Year's Weekend? Vickie and I are doing a little bit of renovation.

On Friday, we got a catalogue from Crazy Clark's, which featured some wood grain-patterned vinyl floor tiles going for $10 per box of 22. After replacing carpet and some old lino in the kitchen and dining room with a great wood pattern covering, the tiles looked like they'd go well for covering the hallway between the kitchen / dining room and the computer room at the front fo the house. We did some measurements, and figured that eight or nine boxes would cover not only the hallway, but also the computer room floor. All in all, it looked like a darned good deal, so we went out yesterday morning and bought nine boxes.

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November 25, 2005

chopping wood, carrying water

For the first time in a little while, I've established yet another category within the IMAGinES web log: House and Home. I have no doubt that it wouldn't surprise you that I have a lot to learn when it comes to keeping house, but I think there's something worthwhile in discussing my discovery of what it takes to just live every day (instead of parking my arse in front of my PC, typing web log posts and playing games), and the value of the skills therein. Thus, I've jestingly subtitled this category, Embracing the Zen of Domesticity.

Hey, I figure if Greg Dean can go to cookery school, I can renovate a kitchen.

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April 17, 2005

Riverstone Road

Ladies and gentlemen, I would very much like to announce to you all the arrival of the much-requested but long-delayed photos of the new old place.

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October 13, 2002

Rent or Buy?

With one of Vickie's houses in Cairns having been sold, we've been doing some serious thinking about residence. In our minds has always been the plan that we'd buy ourselves a house somewhere with the proceeds from the sale of both houses going toward a deposit; I believed that the loan replayments would be cheaper than the rent we've been paying.

That idea took a battering when we browsed the papers and the windows of real estate agents. I'm sure this is no surprise to Sydneysiders, but house prices around here are astronomical, and they only appear set to go higher. I think the average house price is around the half-million dollar mark. The idea sunk entirely, though, when Vickie started using the mortgage calculators on the web-sites of various banks. At the moment, we pay a little over a grand a month in rent. If we did take a loan out, we'd be paying about three times that amount every month; we simply can't afford it, even if we found a place in Berowra (an idea I'm not fond of, simply because it's so far away).

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