Robert-the-Scotsman left today after doing the second coat of our old deck and it has come up rather well. He’ll finish off the internal side of the front fence next week and then he’s off on a Grey Nomad trip of a lifetime with his beloved. I’m very pleased with how our deck has come up – it needs replacing in the next few years but for now the wood is still mostly solid. Robert acknowledges he’s not the neatest painter, but he’s done all right for a fella in his 70s. I’m hiring someone else from next week, who I think will be neater and cleaner, but you know, I don’t mind helping a fellow out from time to time. Robert is fast, at least!
As I’ve said elsewhere on this blog, we’re not changing the main house colour just now – super exxie. And it’s still in good condition. But we can change the trim and accent colours. We used Dulux Klavier on the deck floor – it’s a lovely warm black with notes of purple and brown (should be called eggplant IMHO), and Dulux Natural White on all the woodwork. I can’t wait for the rest of the house to be trimmed out in these colours! We’re painting the front door a crazy pinky-lilac for shits and giggles. I think we’ll stop there – the Klavier already looks good against the Celery colour of the house and I cannot WAIT for the beige trim to begone (you can see it on the underside of the deck roof – so very meh). It’s fine on Arts and Crafts houses in, say, England or the US, but this house needs a lighter, brighter touch. We’ll get the silver paint onto the old window hoods too. I’m also rethinking my need to cover the ENTIRE front porch with plants…it looks so nice all bare. Gah! What am I thinking?! My hubby must never know that sometimes I like minimalist moments… 😉 In truth, it’s the best spot for herbs right there, with the most glorious afternoon sun.
So I bought a large black and white standing desk and assembled it myself with 2 screwdrivers and a drill (the instructions did NOT recommend this as a thing – I had to find out when there were no pre-drilled holes in the desk top). And I love it. I stand most of the day now, and if I get a little tired I walk away and come back to it in the standing position. It’s fantastic. This desk is very large because I have three screens (2 monitors and a laptop, plus assorted portables when needed), and I needed to ensure the desk wouldn’t sag over time, as they tend to do when made of veneer and chipboard. The Rapid Span 1800mm desk (made in China) came with a modesty panel as standard – this helps to stabilise the desk in the standing position – and a metal u-beam that screws to the underside of the desk. Even better is that I can see outside to my garden now, and I love it!
The worst part about this new desk are all the cords. It’s nearly impossible to hide them, and if people tell you they can hide them they lie. My monitors each require 2 cords (1 power cord, 1 connector cable). My computer requires 1 power cord, 1 mouse cord and a keyboard cord, plus the AV cord that goes from my trusty 10-year-old Harmon Kardon woofer and tweeters. Ask me why I don’t just get wireless everything: go on. Well, until mouses (mice?) and keyboards are fully rechargeable I’m not going buying ones where I have to replace the batteries every week. There is one brand I think that sell USB rechargeable mouses and keyboards but they are super exxie and I’m just not going there yet. And yes, I DO have a wireless Bluetooth speaker in the room, but I prefer to use the Harmon Kardon – it’s not obsolete! Plus there’s the desk-lamp cord, three power boards (for all the power cords!), my USB phone charger, the Bluetooth speaker charger and the air-diffuser. And the printer power cord. And the desk cords. Basically, it’s just really cord-hungry, this room. Some folks have suggested buying a cord tidy, but actually all the cords and cables go in different directions and then hang off the desk – it’s quite hard to manage them overall, so I just don’t.
I’m a musician in a former life and I still have an electric keyboard, microphone stand, mic, music stand plus 2 speakers on one side of the room, and when I’m doing any work here I have to acknowledge that the cables and cords have always been a part of my working life. What should change now that I do research and stand at a desk all day?! I do dream of a cord-free study that looks pretty, but that’s not reality. In reality, there’s not enough storage in here, I’ve had to turn one of my IKEA bookcases awkwardly sideways to make it fit, and when not in use the desk chair basically gets in the way. But it’s my work room and I love it.
We’ve been doing a few things together and our bank balance is looking a little worse for wear. We finally had a HUGE timber boundary fence installed and it’s beautiful, but it was NOT cheap. We shared the cost with our neighbours with no dramas but I gave them a discount because their side was left with a portion of the old fence (on their side of the boundary actually) that was riddled with live termites… white ant for those not familiar. Given that both our houses are timber, we each shuddered. The fencing guys wouldn’t remove that portion of the old fence so I slightly reduced the neighbour’s cost of the fence cost to offset the nuisance value of getting the termites taken care of and the fence removed.
The doggoes were so good while the fence was missing – they didn’t try to go over to the neighbour’s yard once, except for the very last night before the fence was finished, when Dougal – who up until this point had resolutely refused to step over the mythical fence line – went INTO their open HOUSE and greeted the neighbour with a grin and a wagging tail. Doh! Mike our (rather grumpy) neighbour was not amused. Luckily his wife could see the humour in it… 😉 I’m going to pull out some of the hedging at the top of the block and replace it with rosemary – it’s a softer plant and the car gets scratches every time I open the door onto the rather meh hedging plants there at present. Then right at the top, where the dogs lie in wait for other dogs, I’m going to plant either some lavender, or some woody herbs such as perennial basil, and ground cover plants like thyme or oregano. That spot gets heaps of sun and I’m a bit desperate for some good herbs. We will need to feed and rehabilitate that spot as the dirt is compacted and lacks nutrients, and we may have to pull out a massive concrete footer left from the old fence (apparently rather over engineered according to the fencers who came and DID NOT remove them – too huge to move!)
In other news we’ve been investigating the idea of putting in a ducted air-conditioning system upstairs. Again, it’s not cheap but since we now have solar I feel better about using it during the day, and switching it off at night when we need it less – our carbon footprint isn’t as hellish with solar panels, and the ongoing costs aren’t as huge. Of course, we will only need it between October and April, but we’ve discovered this house is hot in summer and rather cold in winter. There are no window gaps or anything, it’s just a timber and tin home. With all the best will in the world, it’s impossible for them not to heat up quickly and cool down fast. I’ve not checked the roof cavity but I’m pretty sure it’s been insulated – we might even double down on the insulation if it’s the cheap, thin stuff. I’m not yet sold on the air-conditioning idea. We might put it off and then I may spend another summer sweating into my eyeballs – my study is the HOT room, but I spend between 4-8 hours in it most days.
That’s not all. Told you we were being spendy! Two or three years ago we bought a new mattress and realised once it had arrived that it was far too soft for our poor ancient backs. Instead of sending it back, we’ve made do. Our backs have not thanked us! So we made the rather huge decision to buy a king sized bed and mattress ensemble, repurposing our old queen sized bed for the guest suite, and selling our newish, rarely-used double bed (or giving it to our daughter who still sleeps in her single). Again, this was not a cheap endeavour. Luckily, beds are ALWAYS on a 50% off sale, and this one was no exception. We could have bought a decent second hand car with what we paid, but sleeping on a bad bed has taught us that given that we spend fully one third of our lives prone, the lying down bit should always feel good. First world problems, for sure. Of course, this now means I have to spend lots of money on new bedding, because it’s a king-sized bed. This means king sized sheets, doonas, mattress protectors, and even a mattress topper if that’s needed. We bought a firm mattress, because as I’ve been told, one can always soften a firm mattress, but one can never firm up a too-soft one. And, for the first time in 30 years, we will not have a bed with a footrest or headrest. This is new to me – where will I hang all the not-quite-dirty-but-not-freshly-clean clothes? How will we cope? I do have a lovely camphor-wood chest we can place at the foot of the bed but I’m tempted to get a narrow padded bench instead and totally make over our room with new furniture.
In other news, we’re finally painting the front walkway, bannisters and deck! Old mate Robert, who has a thick Scottish accent and says “ooh aye” a lot, has been painting our fence and deck this week. I’m basically paying for his 2-month grey nomad trip around Uluru in June, but I have grown to hate painting with a passion and am ready to let it go to someone else. He’s better than me, and worse than another guy I’m hoping to employ once Robert has scarpered. The new paint looks a treat, and he’s also painted the batwing doors. It’s so fresh! I won’t show you all yet, but I’m pretty thrilled with the result, because the cack green is finally going.
Oh! And I finally bit the bullet and have bought a new electric height-adjustable desk from Office National. Nope, I did NOT purchase it from Officeworks! Just for a change. I wanted a wide desk for my two monitors and laptop, so I’ve gone with a Rapidspan height adjustable 1800mm desk in white and black that should look very smart in my studio and be an improvement on the laminated wood bench top that I’ve had perched atop some bookcases for the last 4 years! I’m very aware of my health as I age and I wanted a desk that I could stand at or sit at as my body demands. I’ve actually sustained a SITTING injury – a sore coccyx – from sitting down too much. I think this will help with my weight and general improved freedom of movement. I’ll let you know how it goes….
Talking colour again. The pretty Taubmans Sweet Clover I selected for the exterior trim DOES NOT WORK. Sure, it’s currently sitting next to depressing kill-me-now dark green but it’s just too muted for me and there’s not enough point of difference. Thank goodness I only bought a sample pot! I’m trying the Klavier as trim and it’s working ok, but it’s not popping the way I had hoped (once again, the beige trim is doing us all no favours). I’m waiting until the white on the walkway and guardrail is done and then we’ll see whether it will look good against the Natural White, and then I might just go a bit wild and try teal or something. Because I cannot live with the depressing nothingness of our exterior! Linseed was not the right colour either – I’ve found a couple of very similar colours in both the Taubman and Dulux colour charts and cannot believe that something so pretty could look so dessicated on our house. Natural White is perfect against the horrible base colour – it’s just getting the trim colour to pop a little more. The two colours at the bottom are Taubmans Sachet Pink and Green Cottage. The green is lovely in theory, but in practice dreary. The bottom aqua is called Hummingbird – a bright pop of aqua that is complementary according to Taubman. I may yet go there.
Here’s a new series of colours that we’re trying. See what I mean about the Celery Green? On its own it’s pretty and bright. On our house it looks dull and tired. Dulux have a lot to answer for for their poop colour of the year, Brave Ground. It’s hard enough to get our house to look excited about anything, then add a poop colour and we may as well give up trying to look even semi interested in life.