My work takes me into the community working with people of all walks of life and I do enjoy it. Recently, I was required to catch a high school bus, with one of my clients, something that came with a few shocks and a few delightful surprises.
School Day Memories
Not having caught a school bus for many years, the prospect of doing so had me thinking of the halcyon eighties – read: the days before public transport was air-conditioned whereby temperatures inside a bus packed full of students surpassed 45 degrees Celsius, or way over 120 degrees F.
Just the kind of temperatures that makes the skin on your thighs stick like super glue to those hard vinyl seats buses are famous for. Fun? Not!
These ‘overheated tin cans on wheels,’ were filled with the happy chatter of school kids, but the fetid air was mostly punctuated with wafts of poorly maintained engine emissions as the diesel engines laboured up and down suburban hills via their given routes. Ah the joys, I thought.
The aisles were more often than not strewn haphazardly with school bags, of various shapes and sizes and the floor looked much like the shores of a tropical paradise post-tsunami. The omnipresent group of testosterone-filled teens adorned with lanky locks, smelly armpits and hefty doses of attitude, were constantly jostling for the privileged rear seats where the cool kids sat. Fun, I remembered. Maybe.
When the sought after back seats were already taken, the not so cool, lanky lads would hook their wrists into the straps that hung down the aisles, thereby securing their upright stability when the bus was in motion.
However, this also meant their sweat-stained, stinky armpits were fully exposed to the passengers sitting opposite. After a full day of [hyper] activity at school and minimal ventilation inside the bus you could imagine the atmosphere was close to combustion!
That’s right – year round subtropical summer is really great if you’re relaxing on the beach; not so great if you are travelling around on public transport. Even in winter, our sun is strong enough to induce a sweat with only the mildest amount of physical exertion. So, perhaps my armpits were not as sweet as a daisy, either! Oops – Note to self: arms down by your sides.
All up, I foresaw this upcoming bus trip as a bevy of aromatic armpits, filled with gum chewing teens shouting a cacophony of lewd/suggestive comments amidst their smartphone induced haze, complete with earbuds perpetually insitu. What WAS I letting myself in for, I mused?
If you are imagining this scene as I did, you’d be wrong.
For it might surprise you to hear this recent bus experience made me smile, a lot.
Waiting at the Bus Stop
The first kids to arrive at the designated wait zone for the bus were smartly dressed – shirt tucked in, hair neat and tidy! I was a little surprised but not completely convinced my stereotypes were not up to date, so I decided that a strict school uniform policy accountered for that anomaly.
Next, I was warmly greeted by a fifteen something teen who introduced himself as Colin. Colin politely asked if I was catching the school bus too. Manners? Surely this wasn’t the norm, I thought?
Add to that, another student followed Colin’s introduction in a similar fashion offering to mentor the student I was there to assist. [How sweet is that?]
I then passed several minutes exchanging small talk with these kids about favourite subjects and activities at school, when a young lad moved directly in front of my line of sight, enquiring as to whether I liked, ‘tea.’
A little confused, I replied that yes I did, in fact, like tea.
“I thought so,” he said, sporting a huge grin.
“Can you tell me why you thought that?” I asked, clearly unsure of where we were headed with this discussion on hot drinks.
“Well, Grandmothers like tea,” he said.
Me: Oh, he thinks I’m a Grandmother! I thought, under my breath. [I am not a Grandmother, btw.]
Let’s hope he was alone in this, I thought!
Me: “Can I ask you what makes you think I’m a Grandmother?” I asked.
“Your hair,” he said. “Grandmas have grey h….,” his voice then trailed off.
Me: “Oh, okay, so you think if my hair was grey, I might be a grandmother?” I suggested gently.
“Err, now I’m not so sure,” he responded, craning his neck to see the back of my head.
“No… it’s blonde,” he discovered dejectedly. “Oh.”
I guessed he was a little embarrassed. I was just about to reassure him all was okay when…..
This loud interjection created more than a few horrified looks at the bus stop.
“RILEY!” – said the boy, Colin, in a reproachful tone suggesting that he was embarrassed by Riley’s behaviour. “You shouldn’t say that.”
“A*SEHOLE!” – Riley said again, shouting louder this time. There was no sign of regret in his face.
Colin: “You’re not allowed to say that, Riley!”
Me: (thinking in my head) Admonishment from a peer? I like this Colin kid. Seems to be taking a responsible, leadership role.
“Sorry,” Riley muttered, his eyes now downcast.
Thinking that most high school bus stops would hear much more colourful language than this, I started with,
Me: “Listen Riley, it is oka…”
Riley: “A***hole, Bum, Sh*t.”
An awkward silence descended on the bus stop, then –
“Ah… Sorry.” Riley in a softer tone this time.
I had just started to think that poor Riley might have suffered from Tourettes, when I noticed a wry smile emerge on his face and a twinkle in his eye.
I looked away lest Riley see my own mouth curl upwards into a giggly smile.
Some things are still the same with teens, after all.
This bus trip was going to be okay and the air-conditioning meant it ended up being a lot of fun.
We have a Practical Completion Date for the Home by the Sea, and it is very close.
Moving date will actually be a further couple of weeks after that. That gives the builder a chance to fix up all the defects, (hopefully none or not too many), prior to handing over the house keys to us and us handing him the big fat final cheque!!
It is getting exciting, but also somewhat daunting knowing what I have yet to do, before I can lay my head down on the bed in my new home by the sea.
The Carpenter returned to re-do the beautiful Western Red cedar roof on the alfresco area, and on the front panel above the famed and maligned cornerless window.
You can see him there hard at work, cursing and teasing me a little good heartedly for making him re-do the section at the front. He is a lovely guy, despite all his intimidating skeletal tattoos!
And for all his tattoos, I asked him if he would let his young daughter get a tattoo when she grew up.
“No way,” he said shaking his head emphatically!
“Good luck with that,” I thought, under my breath.
Further progress included the installation of the Energy Efficient Air Conditioner (an absolute must in northern Australia). Yay!
I won’t have solar power again for a little while, so the less we use it, the better for the planet, right? Mind you, the breeze that persists at the water’s edge might mean we can save a little of the planet’s ecosystems and shut it off for most of the year.
We see that the house has had a QA check and they have found some, well many spots to touch up with the paint. So there are blue dots of tape sprinkled throughout to identify the spots that need fixing with paint.
The bathroom mirrors and shower screens were installed. And I now have somewhere to hang my towel and toilet roll! Yay for that!
The stairs also were dressed with timber grade handrails this week.
All the timber work is to be stained in a teak colour.
We discovered that the lovely oak bedside tables we purchased for a reduced price, during a closing down sale won’t fit in our master bedroom with the existing bed frame. Darn it all.
They can go with the two lamps I purchased that were also a mistake. The MOTH took the opportunity to remind me that I had purchased seven lamps this year! Surely not.
**Lesson learnt here. Don’t buy furniture or lamps, without measuring accurately and before your house is complete.
We have a resident Mamma Kanga and Baby Joey in our park and sporting fields. Eager to find some freshly watered green grass, I spotted them safely tucked away behind the fencing this morning.
I am anxious to receive a Practical Completion date for the Home by the Sea, particularly after a rather intrusive incident at our rental townhouse which was detailed over at Something to Ponder About – [StPA]. Should you be interested in how to save a ton of money in real estate advertising fees and piss off a rental tenant at the same time, for no extra cost, you can read about ‘MrsThe World is My Oyster,’ on my other blog.
Despite not knowing exactly when we might be moving in to the Home by the Sea – we do know that the painting is complete and most plumbing and electrical fittings are installed.
Today, I met with the Electrician to position the pendant lights in the lounge area. He was such a very young man, to be in charge, but obviously highly competent at his job. It is a shame he had a long time girlfriend, as I do keep an eye out for a good quality future son-in-law. [lol]
The taps have been installed and we could have indulged in a shower or bath, if we needed to do so. We passed on that opportunity today as I forgot my towel….
The pendant lights were installed over the Island bench and the Oven and Cooktop are in!
Yay! Hot Christmas dinner – here we come!
The stove is an Induction model, and I am a complete novice in that realm, having only used electric ceramic cooktops for the past 25 years! I had to go out and buy some new utensils and pans. It is wide so I am hoping there will be no more juggling trays to fit in all the roast vegetables my tribe loves to eat on Roast nights.
Still to come at the Home by the Sea: Carpets, minor fixes, hand rails, cupboard shelving for walk in pantry and linen cupboard, mirrors and shower screens, as well as Landscaping and Fencing. And then perhaps, we are done! [excluding the re-do of the Cedar ceiling].
Surely not long now till we move to the Home by the Sea.
Some people know I’m preparing for a seachange; I’m ‘pulling up stumps,’ as they say, in the suburbs, and have already moved, in the interim, to a trendy townhouse in the inner city’s dress circle. What is it like, you might ask?
Think Gourmet ice cream and Vegan eateries, Sushi Trains on many a corner, craft beer bars playing Indie music and a variety of those glamorous shops that sell ludicrously expensive white and taupe furnishings with cushions that are perfectly positioned for looks, rather than comfort. Yep – in a nutshell – that’s Hipsterville. Right at my doorstep.
Imagine little old suburban me, walking the shared bike way in my daggy joggers, being steamrollered by cyclists festooned in those all too revealing lycra bodysuits. [Yes it did happen- several times]. The little Schnauzer was even caught in the slipstream of these semi-pros, who seemingly insist on riding three abreast…
Change might be disruptive and jolting, a shock to the system but it also heralds new possibilities and opportunities.
I will soon be moving to a new location. A new house, new area, new neighbours. It is exciting but a little daunting.
Some of you know that we have been prepping for this move for over a year and soon it will become reality. Add to that, I will be semi-retired- whatever that means?
Have you some moving tips for me? Last year when I moved to my current townhouse, I become stressed out and exhausted. I used to be an ace at moving house, when I was in my twenties and moving flats every year or so.
Thirty years on, I am older and need some tips on making it less stressful.
Can you imagine two billion litres of sea water? Well it is about 1000 Olympic sized swimming pools. That is size and volume of the lake created near our soon to be Home By the Sea.
The man-made lake which is about 14 metres deep, abutts another Quay development (still under construction), behind which is the sea, itself.
The seaside housing estate sits on 143 hectares of excavated soil that has been removed and re-distributed through the estate. On a typical day there are around 160 personnel on site and 60 earthmoving machines in operation. Mind-boggling statistics.
Meanwhile, at the Home by the sea, the tilers have been hard at work, and this coming week the painting and rendering will commence!
The painting will take about ten days, apparently. Three coats of Dulux Snowy Mountains Half. It will take a bit of paint to cover those walls.
I chose a neutral colour to go with the Coastal Scandinavian colour scheme. Most of the colour and tones will come from the furnishings and fittings.
Our almost weekly visits to the house at times could at time seem over the top or fuTile, but humans being humans, mistakes are not uncommon.
On a large project such as a double storey house, and a large scale commercial building company, tradesmen’s crews work on multiple houses, at the same time. Add to this, there are so many different options and choices for fittings and selections, it is little wonder that mistakes occur.
And so, with this latest visit, we were pleased that we found everything in order.
Or was it?
The Kitchen and Laundry Cabinets and Splashbacks were certainly looking great.
The Benchtops had been installed, and were really looking smart under their protected covering. And the floor tiles and bath/shower tiling was all but complete – just the balcony to be grouted.
I worried that I did not have enough variation in the colour scheme in the upstairs bathrooms? I am regretting not adding a white subway splashback tile to lift the cold neutrality of the bathing areas. Ah, first world problems.
Even the garage door had been installed, but was not yet wired up. The electrician is to return to install and connect the lights, fans, power, cooking, and smallish air conditioning unit. (Notwithsdtanding a smaller carbon footprint, I live in the sub tropics so I have to a small A/C unit to be able to breathe and function in the humid summers we have).
I really was born in the wrong hemisphere!
This pic of me, is more my climate, of choice.
On returning home, from the site visit, I was proudly looking through the photos, when the MOTH announced that he had not seen any lights installed on the balcony. Almost simultaneously, I spotted a another problem, albeit a minor one. Sigh….
You might remember I said that this was our forever house, and we don’t plan on moving from there, until we are forced into a nursing home, or into the good earth itself.
Therefore, our design had factored in all the “Old persons’ gadgets and fittings, we could, such as Extra Nogging for future Grab rails in the downstairs bathroom, a wheelchair accessible walk – in shower downstairs, and a downstairs media room, a.k.a Mancave, [should that be MOTH cave??]. The Mothcave could quickly become a bedroom, if necessary for oldies who can’t manage stairs.
And also we requested:
Lever lockset doorknobs with a long easy to open handle, for potentially (sorry Manja), gnarled, arthritic hands! In fact, the MOTH went to a lot of trouble and emails to ensure there were NO round Knobs anywhere!!!!
We also wanted a lockable internal door to prevent break-ins via the hall. (One of the benefits of Social Media was that this had been a popular Burglary tactic, and design locks to foil this, if possible).
So on zooming in on the photo, I spotted this. Can you see it?
In the past week or two, the exterior Scyon cladding to the upper storey was installed and painted, almost as soon as it was up. It makes sense, I guess, to make use of the scaffolding, while it was still there. And naturally the soffit was also painted. ‘Soffit’ – such a strange word. I wonder what its derivation is?
I can now get an impression of the final look of the house – less the rendering on the front outside corner, of course, which will be a lighter colour, to lift the darker wall shades.
Meanwhile the Roofer has also returned to complete the flashing around the vents on the roof. That means the roof is finally finished and with Spring around the corner, (if not here already), we will have no worries with the oncoming storms, that are prevalent here, in Springtime.
Not that Queensland really has much of a Spring. Usually it jumps straight to a mild summer around mid September!
Inspection of House
Last week we met with our Site Supervisor to have a walk through the house so far, checking layouts and seeing what has been done. We are not supposed to enter the property unauthorized due to insurance and legality issues. Until the stairway is installed the only access to the second floor is via a ladder! A bit of a risk for those without WH& S training.
No one seemed to worry so much about that in days gone by, did they?
Outdoor Alfresco Ceiling Installation
When we came to inspect the ceiling in the outdoor patio area, we noticed the wooden feature ceiling that cost me SOOO much money, to include in the design, had been installed – the wrong way!!!!! What????
It was an error as they had not seen it with a “castellation” or routed profile facing out before! It WAS them that drew our attention to it, so we couldn’t complain they were not totally upfront in the matter.
To be fair to the carpenters, cedar lining is often laid flat, but with a beveled intersecting edge and a flat profile in high-end homes and boats. However, there wasn’t any beveled edge to the way they laid this profile, so I was pretty disappointed.
The Site Supervisor has been brilliant, though. He and the Company don’t want their clients to be stressed, so they reassured us that the installation could be reversed, if we wanted that. Although I am worried about any obvious nail holes……
I decided that I couldn’t leave it as it was, given that it was the routed, “KIT KAT look, that says ‘COASTAL Scandinavian’ style, that I wanted in the original design.
What do you think? Would you leave it or get the builder to reverse it?
What a change a week makes. The Bricklayers are all but finished, so we can finally get an idea of what the base of the house will look like.
You might notice the bricks are different on the front of the house – a bit patchy compared to the rest. This is because there is rendering to be done on the front of the house. The rendering and wrapping of the corner of the house, abutting the two street frontages, meets the Estate developer’s covenant requirements – not so our wishes.
I suppose it adds a level of interest and a certain look to the estate?
The plasterers are finished the walls inside and the waterproofing of the shower recesses and wet areas have been completed.
Cladding the Second Storey
The scaffolding that has now been erected is necessary for the builders to install the cladding to the upper part of the house.
I was very excited to see bundles of vertical lined cladding and my treasured cedar roof arrive ready for installation on the next vacant block.
Of course the cladding is going to be painted.
I have chosen a Dulux Teahouse colour, at least I think that is what it was called. It is a bit hard to remember every paint selection, but in my head I have the colour hue itself, even if the name is wrong. It is a little bit like the cladding on this Stockholm house, (slightly different facade to ours).
Next week, the staircase will be installed and perhaps some cabinetry?