Category Archives: repairs

And so, the story never really ends …

An attempt to have a crack at a peaceful holiday in Cairns last February ended up being a six week invasion of Roo’s apartment complete with ambulances, paramedics and finally a trip to Townsville for the Hunter Gatherer to succumb to a heart operation – after which the rest of the year continued to deteriorate miserably as the HG lost both parents in quick succession and chaos descended on what hadn’t ever been a particularly peaceful existence in the first place.

Towards the middle of the year, Rocco decided to leave home and move to Melbourne for work. Being the final chicken to leave the nest, one would think Rocco’s mother would have wept and gnashed teeth – and that might certainly have been the case had there not been so much other stuff going down. There was certainly no time for Rocco’s mother to blog or write or even think straight – so it is with a certain amount of surprise she finds herself thinking reasonably straightish  once again, though astounded to find herself relocated halfway across the country in a partially renovated beach shack located within a flood’n’cyclone belt (but that’s another story), and far, far away from the softcock option of New South Wales’ idyllic south coast where she had become ensconced in arse-inflating comfort in a cosy room overlooking a nice garden, contemplating chocolate cake and the HG’s impending retirement and not thinking of weather conditions in every waking moment and having one foot permanently poised to flee.

How did all this happen?  Who knows – but it did. In July, after a harrowing few months of disarray, the HG and Rocco’s mother decided to take a short break to visit Flygirl in Darwin, returning via Cairns to re-visit Roo and get it right this time. The idea was to not have a medical emergency for a change, but to check out real estate with a view to maybe relocating ho-hum soonish whenever. Rocco’s mother didn’t at any stage imagine they would really be relocating. She and the HG were not, and are not particularly to this day, renowned for snap decisions, change or risk taking. Rocco’s mother is, however, a sucker for old Queenslanders (the houses, not the geriatrics), and spent many happy hours looking through the real estate liftout of the Cairns paper and even attending Open Houses. After a few of these, where various ‘renovator’s delights’ and ‘handyman’s dreams’ were offered for twice the price the present home in NSW would be worth, the HG informed her he wasn’t a fan of Queenslanders anyway and that there was too much work involved. In a way, this came as a relief to Rocco’s mother, who was already contemplating going home and resuming her arse-expanding sofa activities and not having to worry about termites, woodrot or, indeed, having to spend every waking moment of every available day wandering around Bunnings. Which is what eventually happened. It turned out the HG’s lack of enthusiasm for old Queenslanders was merely a matter of location. He didn’t want to live in the city – he wanted to live by the beach.

And so it was, on the final day of the holiday, Roo took the HG and Rocco’s mother to a northern beaches suburb where they phoned a real estate agent on a whim, and inspected what could only be described as a shack. Rocco’s mother wasn’t even taking much notice. There was plenty of termite damage, woodrot galore – one bedroom and a small alcove which didn’t have any business being called a bedroom but optimistically had been – and an outdoor dunny located on the back verandah, which tilted away at a crazy angle and felt as if it were about to collapse into the ground. Rocco’s mother was surprised to hear the HG asking animated questions of the real estate lad – and mildly alarmed when the RE lad informed them he’d had a quote for ‘around $10,000 to have the roof replaced’ – which would, of course, be immediately necessary for the unlucky purchaser to undertake prior to habitation. Alarm bells gave a distant jangle when the HG whipped a tape measure from his pocket – but Rocco’s mother knew their flight was booked for the next morning.

Imagine then, how fate intervenes and changes the course of people’s lives. At the airport the next morning, Rocco’s mother and the HG were bumped from their flight, and the afternoon saw them returning to the beach shack with an even more rigid tape measure and … whatever.

So it came to pass. The termite infested shack was duly purchased, the cosy home in NSW disposed of, and nothing will ever be the same again. As we speak, Rocco’s mother is sitting in the small room which could never possibly be considered big enough for a bedroom and which is, surprisingly, just perfect for a computer and not unlike the small office she had ‘back home’. Maybe things will be written here.

But that’s another story …

.oOo.

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Nothing will ever have a place anywhere any more …

There is a gaping hole in the kitchen of Rocco’s mother – where the drawers used to be. Whether they will ever go there again is questionable, and Rocco’s mother is forced to gaze in wonder (and maybe even, if she cares to admit it, a little bit of annoyance), at the pile of plastic bags flung in the corner which contain the once neatly arranged ex-contents of the ghosts of drawers past. The contents of the cutlery drawer are in their little compartmentalised tray thingie on the kitchen table. For convenience. They’d like to be in a drawer, as would the biscuit cutters, melon baller, bicycle repair kits and random crap – but there is not one available in which for them to be.

For Rocco, in a fit of goodwill and benevolence, decided to commit his good deed for the year and replace the faulty drawer runners while his parents were away on Boxing Day. The drawers had been malfunctioning for quite some time – most of the little ball bearings having escaped and rolled to places unknown – and on the one occasion the Hunter Gatherer had attempted to purchase new runners, he’d discovered – alas – the correct size and type were no longer available. Thus, things trundled along in an unsatisfactory manner for several years – until Rocco, in absentia parentis, decided to get it sorted for once and for all.

The first Rocco’s mother knew about this was while she was waiting, in pleasant and indulgent anticipation, for her dinner to arrive at her table in the Upper WoopWoop Golf Club, where the Hunter Gatherer had taken her for tea. A txt msg came through – not quite like manna from heaven, but surprising nonetheless  – which stated, in Rocco’s usual eloquent fashion, that he’d ‘… trd to fx kchn drws and f*kd thm. Sorry :(.’

Rocco’s mother was touched. She thought it was sweet of Rocco to have wanted to indulge in household repairs and maintenance at Casa Shambolic – which has, indeed, rather a long list of impending projects to be tackled. She txtd back – using lots and lots of words and proper punctuation and upper case letters for appropriate nouns even – because naturally Rocco’s mother cannot allow herself to abbrv8  or lwr her stndrds in any way. She told Rocco how lovely it was that he’d attempted the project – and assured him he was not to worry at all.

At almost the precise time his parents arrived home after their two days away, Rocco departed on his own short holiday – assuring his mother as he passed her swiftly on the verandah he would attend to the drawer problem on his return, as he would have to construct new drawers to accommodate the updated runners. Rocco’s mother was happy (allegedly, anyway) to wait a few days. Given that the gaping hole in the kitchen cupboards would have been evident even to Blind Freddy, encapsulated within a wombat trundling its way through her kitchen in the middle of a dark night after hell had frozen over, she was happy in the knowledge Rocco would not ever be able to forget the job had not been completed. Every morning when he wanted his lunchwrap and coloured Zippy bags for his sarnie, he would be forced to rummage in the plastic bags in the corner, as was she. He would be mightily peeved by this, and would surely move to complete the job, Godspeed.

Theoretically, this seemed like a very goodly thing. In reality, however, Rocco’s mother is less than impressed with the status quo. Today is January 10, and there is still a gaping hole in the kitchen of Rocco’s mother. She does not wish to complicate things by suggesting the situation move to a more convenient level, so she has taken to placing various object d’art in the cavity each night before going to bed – in the hope Rocco will be shocked and awed into taking appropriate remedial action. On one particular morning, he was greeted by a Mexican garden gnome. It obviously didn’t !hola! quite loudly enough, as Rocco failed to remark on it. Neither did he seem to notice the large watermelon, the chamberpot or the 10kg of very excellent and quality hoochy-kooch in the boogie board cover.  Which probably wasn’t all that surprising, seeing as even customs officials miss that one.

Rocco’s mother is not quite sure which course of action to take next. Maybe tomorrow morning she will leap from the cavity in person, wild and demented in her horrid velveteen dressing gown and frightening hair. In which case, Rocco will probably say, ‘Seeing as you’re in the kitchen, woman – bake me some cake!’

And Rocco’s mother will say … ‘Boo!’

.oOo.

In the room with an elephant called Victa …

This would be funny if it wasn’t a bit of a worry.  After the fortnight we’ve had, I was hanging out for a bit of a laugh – and hilarious as it is, it probably signifies the crumbling of life as we thought we knew it.

The saga of the leaking shower troubles at Casa Shambolic is another story in itself, so we won’t go there at the moment. Suffice to say, after nearly 30 years of hit’n’miss child rearing, mild domestic biffo and general wear and tear, there are bound to be maintenance issues. But one thing we’ve always been relatively happy about amidst the general chaos, is that we have a nice garden. It’s large and shady and ferny and palmy – and has two nice water features and a birdbath as well as a pool and gazebo. What it doesn’t have at the moment is a freshly mown lawn – and it’s unlikely to have one in the near future, due to the Hunter Gatherer eclipsing me this week (hurray!) on the steady downward spiral into dementia. May well the Rt Honourables roll their eyes at me – I’m proud to say I’m verging on boringly sane this week in comparison to their father. And let’s face it, one of us has to uphold some vague threads of lucidity or the whole partnership is destined for the nuthouse faster than a clockwork turd up a drainpipe.

Last Sunday, the HG decided it was time to mow the lawn, and pulled out the trusty Victa. Unfortunately for him (and the rest of the universe), the pull cord thingie broke off on his second or third attempt. Quelle fromage and quite a few f-bombs. He informed me he had loaded the offending piece of crap into the back of the ute and would take it to the mower place during his lunch hour on Monday to be repaired and serviced. As you do.

On Tuesday, the HG came home at lunchtime and mumbled something about dropping in to the repair place to pick up the lawnwhanger  on his way back to work – at which point I suggested it might be a better idea to phone them first, bearing in mind parking problems, etc. The little light bulb pinged over the HG’s head and he dialled them up. The girlie at the other end asked him for his name and had him spell it twice. Then she told him she’d go and ask somebody whether the mower was ready or not. After a fairly long time – during which we had coffee – the very obliging girlie came back on the line and informed the HG the mower wasn’t ready – but he should phone back in a couple of days, please. Phew. Legitimate excuse to not mow lawn that afternoon – and another cup of coffee, please, this time with cheesy toast.

Well, every second Tuesday is bigshopping day, so I set out that evening to wander lonely as a cloud around Food-o-rama.  There weren’t any daffodils, sadly, but imagine my surprise on returning to the car when I lifted the tailgate to hoik the grocery bags in and came face to face with … a lawnmower. ‘Good,’ I thought. ‘The mower place must have phoned the HG during the afternoon to come get it.’

Back at home, the HG appeared like the angel he is, illuminated by the verandah light, to help me bring the shopping in. Naturally, I commented on how efficient the mower place had been after he’d phoned them at lunchtime. He looked puzzled (as well he might) – and when I opened the back of the ute, looked rather as you would if you’d seen a three-headed monkey. ‘What’s THAT doing there …?’

It turned out he’d never even dropped it off in the first place. Mind you, it took a bit of thinking about it, and retracing his steps, and wondering who he was and what he’d been put on earth for anyway.  And thinking back, I have to give points to the girlie on the phone, who didn’t just come out and admit they didn’t have our mower on their premises at all but who was obviously thinking outside the square, assumed her employer had misplaced our property and tried valiantly to buy him some time. What a woman!

Ergo, this weekend we are genuinely waiting for the lawnmower to be fixed. Alas, poor Victa. I obviously didn’t know him as well as I thought I did …

.oOo.

Waiting for Mr Fixit …

            There are many really scary things in this life. Close to the top of the list is having to face the ghastly fact you are in need of a repairman. This is not because they are not perfectly nice people. It’s because I don’t know how to handle them.

            The washing machine has been making a really impressive grinding noise for some time now. I’ve been ignoring it, hoping it would change its mind. Not. There is obviously something causing a bit of a problem in the whatsit – a bra wire or a chewed up sock.

            The real problem is not what is stuck in the whatsit; it’s what to do about getting it sorted. Along with taking out the garbage, this type of transaction should come within the boundaries of ‘secret men’s business’. The bloke phones the repairman, says, ‘Mate – the Whirlpool’s stuffed.’ The repairman says he’ll get around to it. Some months later, maybe he does. These things can’t be rushed.

            There is no way a woman should have to do the phoning. Not unless she has a hankering for wanting to be made to feel stupid. The repairman will ask her what the problem seems to be. There will be a silence in which she can hear Juicy Fruit languidly popping. She will innocently tell him the machine is making a funny noise. There will be a longer silence in which he digests this gem of technical information and she is treated to the sound of him scratching his testicles. He will then ask what the noise sounds like. She will say, ‘Er … like maybe a bra wire.’ She will then hear him telling his mates, who are lurking in the background drinking Milo out of chipped and greasy mugs. There will be much hooting and muffled laughter, and the word ‘doofus’ bandied about.

            When and if he arrives, make absolutely sure you are not in your nightie. He will think you are a bored housewife who calls repairmen in purely to seduce them. He will think this even if he is 65 years old and his stomach is hanging to his knees. He will think this even if you are Kylie Minogue. It will not occur to him you are in your nightie because he was supposed to be coming three days ago at 10.30am and you had given up on him. Imagining he is Harrison Ford is the nature of the beast. He probably has a housewife register he shares with fellow repairmen. You get one star if you offer a cup of coffee, two stars if you put a biscuit on the saucer and God help the three star Momma.

            Taking your car to be serviced is another minefield. Mechanics KNOW women are stupid. They read it in the manual. It is imperative you don’t tell him there’s a problem with your thingamajig, or the light on the whatnot isn’t coming on. When he asks what’s wrong, tell him firmly it’s his job to find out. Tell him you are on your way to the airport for a conference in LA on quantum physics and you don’t have time to explain stuff he should know anyway. Look down your nose. Be careful not to slip in the pool of sump oil on your way out – it spoils the effect of your otherwise cool presentation if you have a slick of SuperRev up the back of your designer knickers. When you get charged three times as much as the job was worth, you’ll probably kick yourself, realising how much you would have saved if you’d just come clean and told him the whatnot sounded blocked.

            Clearly, what is needed are more female repairpeople. You can comfortably tell them about the bra wire or the thingamajig, safe in the knowledge they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about. When they turn up, you can make coffee (the espresso kind), break out the Cheez Nibblies and have a good old natter in your Simpsons pyjamas.

            When she’s extracted the sock from the whatsit, she’ll even mop up the greasy water that leaked out over the laundry floor and make sure there aren’t any little nuts and bolts left over. There’ll probably be time for a nice glass of chardonnay.

            You’d be a right nuffnuff to call a man in to do a woman’s work!

.oOo.