October 2008

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 :-)

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”.


No, not Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which is what I immediately think of every time I see the abbreviation.

Table Mountain National Park.

I went to their offices in Steenberg this morning to pick up some wild cards for my father. Also picked up maps of the hiking trails on Table Mountain, Silvermine and Simon’s Town (there are additional maps for Cape Point nature reserve and Hout Bay, which I didn’t get).

Now to buy Tanya a new pair of 4x4s and then to get her and the kids up into the mountain. I’ll have to pack some bubbly to entice her to follow me up, and I have no idea how I’ll get her down again, but hey.

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.

Things are looking up

OK, there’s still a lot of work to be done before the end of the month, but things are happening.

The carpets went in on Friday, and I bought some furniture this morning, it’ll hopefully be delivered today.

This weekend I bought a new router, and finished the routing work. I painted the cut surfaces with marine varnish in an attempt at waterproofing (the bit I got on my arm stayed there for three days, so the stuff is rather waterproof) and I’ll hopefully be fitting the dominos and the oven tonight.

I’ve ordered the last bit of countertop, that can go in next and then I can assemble the appliance garage.

I still have to plumb in the kitchen sink, the drain for Tamsyn’s bath, and our bath.

I’ve also ordered a (rather expensive, R3999, but nice) shower door for our bathroom, but that can wait. More important to get skirting boards into our bedroom so that we can move the furniture in.

Welcome back, houseblogs.net!

Johan Lourens, 1955-12-12 to 2008-10-09

Mood: Sad.

I did my Master’s Thesis at Stellenbosch under Johan Lourens. I can honestly say that I enjoyed my post-grad study years tremendously. We had small (five to seven student) classes, continuous evaluation (no exams), and the company of the brightest people around (lecturers and fellow students).

Johan wasn’t one of the ultra-bright professor types who lived in his own world — in contrast, he had an understanding of how things worked in practice, and more importantly, he had a way of imparting that knowledge to young stupid assholes like me (I’m older now).

How he managed to coax me through researching and writing up my thesis without slapping me upside the head in frustration remains a mystery. But he persevered, and I think I learned more from him than from any other lecturer.

So it was a shock to see his face in the obits last week.

I went to the memorial service on Saturday, and it was (not unexpectedly) clear that Johan meant a lot to a lot of people. And I mean a lot. They had 200 chairs put out, realised that this would not be enough, put out more chairs, and in the end some people had to stand. I’d estimate that there were more than 350 people present. All of them deeply moved by the loss of a friend.

Turns out that the doctors told Johan he didn’t have that long to live, so he took his wife Erika to Europe, where they saw some of the places they’d always wanted to see while saying goodbye to one another — *respect*

A pleasant surprise was that Erika recognised me immediately — she last saw me 17 years ago. It was of course great to see her again, in spite of the horrible circumstances. She mentioned that Johan always thought I’d make a good engineer. I’m flattered, although on a scale of 1 to Johan I’d rate myself no more than a five.

The world has lost a good engineer and an even better person.

Router bits

All the hardware stores carry router bits. Kits with the most astounding selection of everything I don’t need.

I used a jigsaw to cut the holes for the dominos in the kitchen countertop. But the dominos are deeper than the thickness of the counter, so I figured I should route a space into the cabinets below.

OK, I could just jigsaw it out, but that would leave holes visible from the bottom. I only need half a plank’s thickness extra depth (yes, I know, the preceding sentence doesn’t make much sense. Just nod and smile).

So I needed a router bit with a bearing on the shaft, like the one on the right in the picture :

B.P.M. Power Tool Centre in Southfield is the place to go to. They’re cheaper than Builders Warehouse too.

Then I discovered that the router I have on loan is a POS. The “one little thing wrong with it” (inside joke) is that you can’t lock the cutting depth, it works itself loose. So the hole starts off at the right depth and then gets shallower. I removed the springs, with the result that the hole starts off at the right depth and then gets deeper.

I shall have to purchase a decent router.

Old Mother Hubbard, went to the cupboard…

Delivered this morning, one wardrobe (R4500), two pedestals (R650 each) and Tamsyn’s desk (R795).

The desk barely fitted through the back door, which is a good thing, saved me from cutting the legs off and propping it up on bricks. Or removing the door. Whatever.

Last night we cleaned the living room in preparation for the carpets going in on Thursday / Friday. Moved all the remaining kitchen cabinetry to the lounge and all the offcuts to the garage.

I also wormed my way into the main bedroom roof to fit some insulation (what used to be the pink stuff is now the green stuff, and it doesn’t itch, which is a bonus). To get up there I had to lie on planks. To use the planks I had to remove some nails. In this process I bashed my knee when the hammer got away from me. Which in turn means I didn’t get much sleep, ouch. It’s hard being clumsy.


(I was in a hurry when I took these photographs so y’all will just hafta live with the autofocus, OK?)

The last five or six times we went to Muizenberg market, I looked for but could not find a prep bowl tap — i.e. a single tap for cold water only, not a mixer.

On Sunday we saw this one and I snagged it, even though it’s not quite what I wanted (R180).

Well, lo and behold, we found the one below at the next table. Exactly what I wanted (Cobra Capstan – R200). So now I have a preb bowl tap spare.

While I much prefer the look of the Cobra Capstan range, I want a continuous mixer at the zink*. This makes it easier to select the temperature when rinsing, for example. Example above cost R180.

Tanya found this shower rose which she quite liked. R375.

And somewhere along the line I found some time to cut the holes for the three dominos. We’re still sort of deciding where to put the electric one, but I think I’ve settled on the layout in the picture.

* While the rest of the (civilised?) world calls ’em “kitchen sinks” or “basins”, in Cape Town we call ’em “zinks”. Much to the chagrin of SWMBO.