Monday, 6 October 2008

The success of failure

October is an anniversary month of sorts for us. A year ago, we signed the contract on our new house. It was another five months before it was moved onto our land and we have now been working on it for almost eight months. In the larger picture of time and other people’s building projects, it doesn’t seem that long. In the smaller picture of myself and my family, it seems forever. Today, in an odd coincidence, both the builder and the house removers are back. The house removers came after two months of nagging by me, and promises by them, to weld on a final missing cross-support on the stumps. The builders are here to “re-engineer” the back stairs to make them comply with the building code to which they should have originally been built.

After painting for a good proportion of the weekend, I am letting everyone do their jobs and keeping out of the way. There’s only about one and a half rooms to go with the painting so progress is being made. I’ve ordered and am waiting for a further supply of floorboards to finish replacing those infested by borers. I met someone the other day, an English someone, who pointed out that 85 is not really old for a house except in Australia. My response was to say that it is a wooden house in a tropical climate teeming with things that snack on houses between real meals. 85 years is a long time for wooden houses here.

I was complaining to Mr Blithe that I hated calling building supply places as it really isn’t my area of expertise. He pointed out that it has become my area of expertise. I don’t think it is one that will get used much in the future. I’m not planning to do anything building related for a very long time. I did realise yesterday though that had I received the grant for which I applied earlier this year (learning about setting up a bookshop in a rural area), I would not have had the time or energy to be working on the house. So in the grand scheme of things, failure can work out. However, reading a Neil Gaiman book in spare moments this weekend, I found a quote along the lines of “a town without a bookshop, is no town at all.” By that definition there are a lot of “not towns” in Queensland including our own. And it is likely to continue that way for the foreseeable future. (By the way, Gaiman’s American Gods is astounding. I found it hard to get to sleep last night after finishing it. I don’t know how anyone can imagine stories like he does – the complexity, humour and sheer weirdness of his tales are amazing. I am in awe and just the tiniest bit jealous).

I can look back and feel frustrated that our house is not yet finished or I can think about the fact that we are within sight of the end. Our list of things to complete is down to a handful, albeit a difficult and complicated handful and we will eventually have doubled the size of our house having hopefully only stretched, not broken, ourselves financially and emotionally. We have eleven weekends to go before the deadline. This then is my life at the moment: writing, the children, painting the house, blogging, doing housework badly, reading when I can squeeze it in.


Vivi said...

American Gods still haunts me, although I read it 6? 7? years ago. I'm not the slightest bit jealous of Gaiman, because his abilities are a realm away from my own -- it's like being a teensy bit jealous of Michael Phelps for his ability to swim.

Apparently his new book, The Graveyard Book, is as good as Coraline, "the instant children's classic".

Blithe said...

I've been on a bit of a Gaiman jag -- reading American Gods, Anansi Boys and Coraline in the last fortnight. I'm trying to decide if Coraline is too scary for Blithe Girl or not. Have Boy-child and Girl-child read it?

Vivi said...

No, I don't think they have. But The Wolves in the Walls, a picture book of his which I love, was way too scary for Girl-child 2 years ago...maybe even last year (when she was just turned 7). Boy-Child cut his teeth on Lord of the Rings (the movies), so little magic truly scares him.