Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Love Seat (or why you need to love your builder)

You may have noticed in my last post, where I was showing off the lovely mulch I put on the bank, a stunning rock wall. This engineering marvel was created by our builder. And it demonstrates why we use him. Paul organised the wonderful Bob the Bobcat man to create the house pad. This left us with about a 2 meter high cut at the back of the house. Paul then organised the big rocks to come up from a local quarry and an excavator to pick up and place the rocks. The rocks are roughly 1.2 meters high. If we went any higher, we would need an engineer to design and sign off on the rock wall. So he just went one rock high up against some Lomandra that I planted a few years ago, then had the excavator pull out the Lomandra and replant them behind the rocks. The result is that it looks like the rock wall has been there for a long time. Fortunately, we have had a bucketload or three of rain since this has been done so the Lomandra should thrive and survive.

In the meantime, the Responsible Adult and I have been visiting every 5 minutes or so to see how it was all going. At one point, we saw a rock that looked like a natural love seat. So we asked for it to be placed at the end of the house pad so we can go down in future to have a cuppa and look at the world. Paul obliged. You need to have a builder that wants you to be involved in the small details like this. But wait……..there’s more………coming soon. In the meantime, here’s the loveseat:

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Inversions Iain Banks

This is another wonderful novel of Iain Banks Culture series which has been previously described on this blog. I don’t normally do Si-Fi, but Banks is very readable and while I wouldn’t normally do a second blog on a series, this one needs attention. The Culture series is not written as a linear series, you should be able to start with any novel, but this one is an exception. Don’t read it first. You need to understand a bit about the Culture first. Our planet is roughly aligned to our 17th Century and involves perhaps a Western and an Islamic state. The chapters alternate between the story of the Bodyguard and the Doctor (no, not that Doctor). If you understand the Culture, it becomes plain, but not stated, that the Doctor is from the Culture. The story of the Doctor is told from the first person perspective of her assistant while the story of the Bodyguard is told from a third party perspective. I guess this is more fantasy than Sci-Fi, but is the usual Iain Banks ripping yarn well told. A lovely diversion with everything tidied up in the final chapters, Enjoy.

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The last goodbye

We vacated the cubby house last night and spent our first night in La Studio. Right now our buyers should be doing their last inspection before settlement in 4 hours time. We went round the house this morning for a final clean and to say goodbye. So now I’m sad to be leaving. We are selling a house that is jointly owned by me and the Responsible Adult, but it feels like I’m also selling the boys home. Our new house will be just ours and they will feel no ownership of it. But that’s how it goes, I guess, when the family home just gets to be too much for the parents. It has to go.

On the positive side, it was fun camping down at La Studio. I have music set up, coffee set up and a TV that will play files from a hard drive. Having set up the important stuff, I will look at getting the cooking set up next but probably not before the Vietnam trip. It is a bit snug, but tells us we will like living on this paddock. Also, I got the slope of the house mulched with sugar cane. Filthy stuff but it will hold the bank against the rain until we can get it planted.

We have also paid our deposit to the builder and will sign our contract later today. Let’s hope for some dry weather so that when we get back from Vietnam the house will be progressed.

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Groovy Pad

Even before we have left the cubby house, I got some works started on the new Groovy Pad. Living in slopesville means that you have to build on poles or do some serious moving of the earth. Fortunately we have Bob with his Bobcat. Even though it is a small machine, Bob really knows his stuff and has done some serious leveling for us. Groovy Pad will start at the end with a concrete slab for rainwater tanks, then proceed to build Groovy Pad about 400mm off the ground and finish up with the garage on concrete. We also had him level a space for customer parking and level out some roadbase for the builders to use instead of churning up red mud.

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Cubby house sold

Well, I guess if you put your home on the market, someone will buy it. I think this was a bit tougher because whoever we sold it to would also be our new neighbours. So it sold to a young couple – which is good, who are very tough negotiators – not so good if you are on the receiving end, who both work for Parks Department – which is also good. Unfortunately, they gave us a list of demands, so I have been working at ugly and sometimes expensive chores.

I always thought it would also be tough leaving, given this is the home where we raised the boys. When the paintings went down to La Studio, I thought that was over. It was no longer our home. But with just a couple of days to go, I am feeling a tiny bit sensitive about leaving here.

On the plus side, the day after settlement, we are off to Vietnam taking our youngest and his girlfriend as a treat for them. We figure it will be a lot cheaper for us to stay in Vietnam while the new groovy pad is being built.

Also on the plus side, we have packed up a whole lot of stuff and taken it to La Studio so it is just our main furniture going into storage. Mind you, moving the concrete garden stuff was a bit hard on the back.  So now it is cleaning, cleaning and cleaning all for our new neighbours.

Bye, cubby house. Thanks for having us for 19 years.

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Two Brothers Ben Elton

I fondly remember when Ben Elton published his first novel Stark in 1989. It was a ripper. Since then, I have read a few of his novels but none came near that first big hit. So, I was interested to have a go at his historical fiction novel Two Brothers. Initially, I thought it was over simplistic stuff, but perhaps that was because I was coming off the very obscure Keri Hulme book.

The novel is set in two time zones. The brothers birth starting in 1920 progressing through to the war year and a post war Britain where we follow the progress of one of the brothers. Early in the novel you can see a twist coming and it looks pretty clumsy. But persevere, the twists keep coming until we get the answers to bring a conclusion.

I found it a bit of a page turner and was keen to know the fate of the main characters. Some of the dialogue seemed a bit overblown – respectable Germans swearing in the 1930’s and an immigrant from the West Indies saying Dat etc a bit too often. But if you like a good yarn, here’s one for you.

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The Bone People Keri Hulme

OK, it HAS been months since my last post and that is courtesy of this bloody book. This is part of my read all Booker winners self imposed chore. I say chore now, because of this bloody book, but of course it has mainly been a pure pleasure.

Since finally finishing this tome, I have found out that the author struggled to get it published. Publishers didn’t want a bar of it and eventually it got done by a small NZ publishing firm. I don’t get why it won the booker, but it did. This is a tough read in more ways than one. The author seems to (at times) want to paint pictures with words. That these sentences don’t necessarily match the plot doesn’t seem to matter. The book also pops in plenty of Maori language without translation. So it is not very accessible.  But wait, there’s more. Part of the plot deals with child abuse. This made me put it down frequently and leave it down for sometimes days on end. Worse, there seems to be some sort of justification for the abuse. It is a hard read.

The last quarter of the book seems to go way off topic and on to some sort of Maori spiritualism. Introduced at this time is a bit of heroin smuggling. It is all messy.

If you are a totally dedicated reader of Booker winners then you may read it. If not TOTALLY dedicated, then give it a miss. You can only read a certain number of books before you die and this may not be one that you want to read.

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