Frank called.

Doesn’t sound like it, but this is a major thing :-) Frank’s back from Malawi and ready to get to work again.

So I left him at the house this morning, with a list of things to do.

– Paint skirting boards in Jessica’s room

– Remove toilet door, take a bit off the bottom to clear the carpet finishing strip, replace door

– Paint the insides of Tanya and Tamsyn’s cupboards

– Remove the paint from the oregon pine skirting boards I stripped from the living room

– Fit skirting boards in the living room and dining room

– Tile the glass border tiles in our bathroom

– Touch up (wall) paint in three places

There’s more, for example we still have to make a plan with Tamsyn’s bathroom door, but this list should keep him busy for a while.

What a weekend

On Friday Tanya and I discussed things and realised that the big part of the move would have to happen this weekend. So on Saturday morning I took two trips with the Rand-Lover, ferried the kids’ beds and a whole lot of random stuff over.

That’s the problem with moving 11km — if it were to, say, Bellville, I’d hire a company to bring in a pantechnicon (I love the etymology of the word), pack everything, and get it there. But because it’s just around the corner, we’re moving everything ourselves. Silly, isn’t it?

After the two trips, I finished installing the dominos & oven, and then cut the post form and installed the sink. Things were coming along nicely when Tanya phoned and said “do you know what time it is?” — we had to shoot through to Bellville for a party (which lasted ’till 3 in the morning, not good for our productivity on Sunday).

Meanwhile Frank installed skirting boards in the living and dining rooms.

Yes, our walls are tough!

On Sunday we hooked my father’s trailer, popped into the hardware store, and got to Fish Hoek at about 11:30, finding Frank hard at work (I think he saw the desperation when I asked him if he’d work on a Sunday). He was almost done stripping the paint off the oregon pine skirting boards that I’d removed from the living room, which he then fitted in our bedroom (to be varnished).

I finished installing the sink in the countertop and the countertop on the base cabinets. Got Tanya to clean off the excess sealant.

We then went and collected the fridge. What a mission. The fridge only just fits inside the trailer, at an angle, and if I were just a little fatter I would have been trapped inside the trailer, behind the fridge, for the drive.

It was getting late, so we dropped Frank off at his place on our way to fetch the washing machine and tumble drier. And what do we spot on the lawn at Frank’s place? A bloody huge open trailer, big enough for all of Tanya’s furniture including the fridge, in one go. What’s this? No, says Frank, that belongs to my uncle, I forgot about it… :-)

So. Sunday evening. This is what our house looked like:


Dining room

Tamsyn’s bedroom

Tanya’s room

Jessica’s bedroom (actually the “tidiest” room in the house)

Living room, from both sides

and our bathroom.

Yea. What can I say? So we lit up a fire and braaied some steaks. With potatoes and half a butternut in foil on the coals, beer and red wine, it’s Hell in Africa (1).

I wanted to wash the dishes, so I put the kettle on — lights but no action. I guess the element gave up the ghost. Which means I had to plumb the mixer tap in so that I could wash the dishes.

Tonight, we can move the wardrobes to our bedroom, and get our living room back, yay! (The kids are sleeping at Tanya’s folks’ place for the week, we have enough chaos already :-)

(1) I realised that I need to add to my Land-Rover pages, explaining terms like “Rand-Lover” and “it’s Hell in Africa”. The first is fairly self-explanatory, the funny bit is that I printed the logo on an A4 page and stuck it in the back window, and Pim drove behind me for a week before he suddenly burst out laughing.

We were camping in the bush somewhere between Kariba and Changa, dead quiet, braai fire going, Pim smoking the last of his cigars, and he sighs deeply and says, very gravely, “It’s Hell in Africa”.

Life’s good

On Monday we had two toilets and one shower… now we have three toilets, one shower and one bath/shower… who knows what we’ll have tomorrow.

It’s been a hectic week. I’ve been doing what I can, in between helping Tanya move her stuff (and furrfu, does she have stuff. I thought I had stuff. Well, OK, I do have a container and a half or so more stuff than Tanya does, but hey).

Monday morning I fitted kitchen cupboard doors. Found that the idjits inattentive people at Lansdowne Boards had not drilled the corner cupboard doors for hinges. Also decided the bin cupboard needs to swing out on bottom hinges, rather than pull on slides as I originally thought. So I took those down to be drilled.

On Tuesday I plumbed in the MES toilet. And Tamsyn’s bath, which proceeded to leak (the drain).

On Wednesday I cleared “my” stuff (i.e. anything that’s not hers) out of Tamsyn’s room. And re-plumbed the bath with much swearing and contortions and more swearing.

On Wednesday evening Tanya had a bath. After cleaning the protective film off the bottom of the bath, which was a helluva job. But! She had a bath! In our new house! (Hey, you measure progress your way, I’ll measure it mine).

On Thursday (that’s today) I fitted the corner cupboard door and the bin door. The corner door was tricky, but Julian had told me to balance the two halves on a level surface to line things up, and I used a piece of (thin, prolly 3mm) ply as a spacer, worked well.

On Thursday evening Tanya told me my oven is skew. And it is. Never mind I straightened it out with a shim last time I fitted it (before I took it out to fit the dominos). Bugger.

Oh yes, and apparently we have noisy critters in the kitchen. I sleep through this. Tanya doesn’t. I suspect the rock pigeons were observing Genesis 24:2 under the outside roof. I don’t think they know that (1) I have guns and (2) they taste good.

Oh yes, and we put up some curtain rails. Well, one per kid. But each kids’ room has two windows. Half way there :-)

We can haz food

Friday was a stuffup. I had to go through to Kommetjie, drop off the double mattress (we decided that Jessica would get the two single beds, not a double, so the mattress got sold back to the new owner of Tanya’s old place), pick up three bags of books and a wooden box, pick up the last of the kithen counters from Lumber City, and drop off the books at Tears animal shelter (they sell them for funds).

Got to Kommetjie, cleaning lady told me that the vacuum cleaner has a two pin plug and we took all the adapters with us. So I went to the cafe, spent an exorbitant amount (R26) on an adapter, went back to Tanya’s place, modified the adapter with my trusty Swiss Army knife (the vacuum cleaner uses the Euro two pin connector, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, consider yourself fortunate).

Got to Lumber City “You’re going to cut these yourself then? asks sales fellow”. “Erm, no, I ordered it cut”. “Oh yes I see, it’s written down here” “Indeed, make it happen, varlet!” (Well, something like that anyway). So I pay, ask a few questions, figuring they’re cutting the thing so I might as well learn stuph. Hah. Turns out they’re picking their noses waiting for me to come breathe down their necks before they’re going to do anything. Which I proceed to do, which they proceed to do, we eventually leave Lumber City after 9. Note that I do have a boss, and while he’s very understanding, the work doesn’t do itself.

Friday evening we went through again, picked up even more stuff, including Tanya’s clothes rack exercise bicycle. Also picked up Tamsyn’s bed from Tanya’s folks’ place.

I had to [1] go silhouette shooting on Saturday morning, and I took the opportunity to take the trailer back to Bellville. Came back as soon as possible, and fitted the short counter. I used an aliminium strip to join the two counters at a right angle, this is much easier than cutting the two counters (It seems easy with a jig, but I don’t have the jig, and with only one joint, there’s no sense). Liberally applied Woodoc 50 marine varnish to the cut particle board, and used lots of sealant.

On Sunday we bade Tanya’s brother Clive farewell at the airport, he’s off to the land of Oz to look for gold. Or at least a steady employment and a place to stay :-) After that we went to Makro where we spent *mumble* lots on all kinds of house-ey stuff. If you’re looking for curtain rails and the like, start here, not at Builders Warehouse or Hyperama — which is where we got the toothbrush holders, shower racks, toilet brushes & holders, towel rails, a bath mat and so forth and so on from.

Sunday evening I fitted the side panel by the kitchen entrance. It was 4mm too large at the top (the wall is skew) so I screwed a guide to it and used the router with the trim bit (the one with the bearing at the bottom) to trim the panel to size very neatly.

After this I attacked the shelves that are supposed to go in the top cupboard in the corner. They were a few millimeters too wide, the belt sander worked well. I also connected the washing machine to the outside tap and with an extension lead plugged in Tanya could do her first load of washing at the new house.

While I made the first cooked meal at the new house. Lentil and Rice pilaf with stuff.

Recipe from Diana’s Kitchen, modified to fit what I had.

Two small onions, sliced.
One green pepper, sliced.
Two medium carrots, sliced.
1/2 cup lentils, examined for sticks, stones and small furry creatures, and rinsed.
1/2 cup brown rice.
1 tomato.
Stock powder.
1 teaspoon dried thyme.
Salt & pepper.
Hoisin sauce (ran out of Worcester).

Fry onion, pepper and carrot in a bit of oil. Remove from pot. Bring two cups of water to boil, add stock powder, add lentils, cover and cook 5 minutes.

Add rice and onion, pepper and carrot mix. I added just a bit of Hoisin, since the kids are not as tolerant to chili as I am. Add pepper, thyme.

Simmer for as long as it takes to get the rice done (20-30 minutes). Check and add water as required.

That’s what Jessica had. To Tanya and Tamsyn’s portions, we added some diced pork chops we had left over from Friday’s braai. To mine, I added some shredded pork ribs also left over from Friday. Very nice smokey flavour, worked well.

Found during the move. A friend gave me this, years ago, saying that it reminded him of me.

Tanya and the kids think it’s hideous. Which obviously proves the friend’s point.

Suggestions please

This is the view of the kitchen from the living room. Ignoring the fact that it looks like a hurricane hit the place, what should we put over the sink? Or rather, we’re putting a cupboard with a built-in drying rack over the sink, what should the cupboard look like (all suggestions will most likely be ignored, but I’m looking for ideas).

And on the downside, the bloody bath drain is still leaking. I’ve asked Frank to chip the pipe out of the wall, this calls for Drastic Measures.

[1] Had to, because to keep my licences I need to be a dedicated sport shooter, and to be dedicated I have to shoot a lot. ‘stroo.

Found the leak

I’ve been sukkeling with the leaking bath all week.

The first time it really was a leak. I originally approached the plumbing gat-om-kop [1], and cemented the drain pipe into the wall before attaching it to the trap. Which means I had to heat and bend the pipe to get it to the trap, and in the process I got it out-of-round, so the seal didn’t.

I got Frank to break the pipe out of the wall again, and fitted a new (round) pipe. But things still leaked. So I went for option 3, get rid of the trap. Still leaked.

Last night I suspected that the overflow was the culprit, since that’s not tied into anything at the moment. Put a little bowl under it this morning when i showered, and it did catch a bit of water, but there’s still a lot of water under the bath.

Then it dawned — the grouting between the lowest row of tiles and the bath is not sealing, because… it’s grouting. It’s not supposed to seal. I need to remove the grouting at a 45 degree angle and fill the resulting gap with silicone sealer. On the to-do list for this weekend.

Then I’ll fit the front cover and take the pictures people have been asking about for weeks. Patience, my little grasshoppers, patience.

[1] Arse about face. But gat-om-kop sounds so much better. Afrikaans is a wonderful language to swear in, because even when you’re not swearing, it sounds as if you are.

Crazy season is upon us

I’m not 22 anymore. It used to be that I could go out drinking till 4 in the morning and be walking around like nothing happened by 9 am. But your 30s are different from your 20s, and not necessarilly in a good way.

And lemme tell ya, your forties are not better… we were invited to three parties, and the only one that didn’t end late was Sunday lunch. Sleep when you’re dead.

On the house side, I chipped out the grouting in Tamsyn’s bathroom, between the lower row of tiles and the bath, so that I can replace it with sealant. Then realised I was out of sealant, had to go buy some. Did so on the way to Bellville for braai #3.

I also (with Tanya’s help) put our bath into position and plumbed in the telephone shower and the inlet. I need to go buy a fitting to make the drain work.

And if your wife said “that’s OK, I only want to bath in that bath once the light is up” — take the hint and install the light!

And we officially started taking stuff out of the container. (This is the container where I stuffed my life into, eight years ago. It contains, among other things, three and a half pinball machines, half the bits to resurrect a Puma, a load of Land-Rover bits, a number of interesting old computers, a few amateur radios, and a shedload of books (SF and fantasy) and magazines (Byte, kilobaud, Elektor, ETI…)).

Appliance garage

I’ve been dreading the assembly of the appliance garage for a while, since it involves precision routing, both straight and curved. Had to bite the bullet, it was time.

The straight bits were easy, I clamped a guide to the panel and routed against that. The rounded bits were done very carefully, by hand. I slipped a few times, but the lip on the channeling is wide enough to hide small mistakes.

The completed right hand side. The way this unit is designed is that it gets a wrapped panel on either side, just like my other cupboards. And this raised a dilemma. If I hang the cupboard doors on the top “third” of this unit, they would hang in front of the side panel (If this doesn’t make sense, never mind, trust me). Point is, it won’t look good.

So I routed the thickness of a door off the front edge of the top “third”.


If this plugpoint ever breaks, the poor bugger won’t be able to get it out (the nuts will just spin). Not Right, but expedient (this plugpoint at the top left hand corner of the middle “third”.

Tomato and Beef Kofta, Pita bread, and a bit of bathroom progress

I’ve been browsing through Lex Culinaria, which is not something to do while hungry. The Tomato and Beef Kofta recipe looked good. So I made that (first time I’ve made meatballs, would you believe it?). Also tried my hand at Farmgirl’s pita bread, but slipped up, used too much water, had to add flour, and basically ended up with something closer to naan. No worries, it was great.

It’s easy to lose track of the fact that the house is far from finished when you’re having fun in the kitchen. I suppose I have to start from one side, and since the kids’ rooms are almost there (Jessica has a mirror that still has to go up, and the notwork and computer power points still have to go in) the bathroom’s high on the list.

I don’t know how one is supposed to keep the bath apron in place (note strategic use of batten and screwdriver) but I’m hoping that copious amounts of silicone will do. (I had to cut the tile on the far wall in a curved shape to fit, which is why this took so long. That, and the bath was leaking.)

It doesn’t look like much…

…but it means one less extension cord to trip over.

The wire runs down through the ceiling behind the Colossal Cupboard, under the Hidden Door, and up along the door frame to the plugpoint.

With hindsight it would have been easier to fit the plugpoint before mounting the bookcase on the other side of the wall.

This is the second-last electrical run required. I still need to extend it to Jessica’s room and to the outside plug point for the washer, dryer and chest freezer. (The last electrical run will be for a plug point for Tamsyn’s computer). Edit : of course I’m lying, we still need plug points in the master bedroom, but for some reason that doesn’t come up on my radar…

The master bathroom’s looking good.

Fun with Excel

I’ve been keeping track of my expenses, and decided to roughly categorize the spending. The total so far is just shy of R200 000, but it does include furniture which we would have had to buy in any case.