Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Sounds of progress

Lately I’ve been hearing the constant sound of rustling. Can it be the steady southerly wind in the treetops? Or the newly resident green snake staking its territory on the back wall and windows? No, I think it’s the sound of money slipping away. Seriously though, the renovation is running on budget but is at the stage of constant consumption of money in small and larger increments. Before, it was just one company, the house movers billing us. Now it is the builder, the plumber, building supplies, delivery fees – “How far west of Ipswich is Marburg?”

State of progress at the moment is that we have front and back stairs though as yet no balustrades or railings. We have dug holes for two additional stumps under the house at points the stumping crew decided didn’t need stumps, but we and the builder felt needed extra support to shore up sagging joists. New stumps have been placed and cemented in.

On the weekend, there was the mammoth task of extracting two old stumps from under the original house that had been cut off and left in place when the laundry was built out the back of the house. With the laundry removed, a portion of the dining room was no longer supported. The stumps were extracted with an amazing combination of the laws of physics using well-placed bricks and a crowbar to lever, sheer brute weight and quite a lot of helpless laughter interspersed with grunts and curses. The laughter came from the sight of one of us (I won’t say which one) balanced precariously on the end of the crowbar jumping up and down to no effect whatsoever. Our task on the upcoming ANZAC Day holiday (after Marburg’s first commemorative service in many years, thankfully not at dawn) is to cement the new stumps in place.

My job which requires stamina but no specialised knowledge at all, is to move dirt from the huge mound left by the bobcat when the new pad for the water tank was excavated, trundle it under the new house and dump it at the base of the new stairs. Until enough earth is shifted, the drop off on the bottom of the stairs is somewhat alarming (although the children find it amusing to have to literally climb onto the stairs before ascending them). It’s all part of the joy of building on what the council cheerfully labels as “difficult terrain.”

So while the intellectually and politically committed in the nation met in the capital to discuss the future of Australia, I worked on building our own future, which at that point required no thought, but a fair amount of physical commitment and associated exertion. It is very satisfying although tiring. Even more satisfying was perching on the new front stairs to enjoy a cup of coffee while watching a rain shower move through the valley below.

Yesterday the builder “skinned” the western side of the house – that is, he took off the weatherboards/outer cladding in order to start working on cutting a new doorway and filling in the old one. Progress is definitely being made on the house even if my mind and body are too tired to focus on writing.

No comments: