Saturday, 19 July 2008

When I'm Cleaning Windows

"Oh, in my profession I'll work hard
But I'll never stop
I'll climb this blinkin' ladder
Till I get right to the top.

When I'm cleaning windows..."

-George Formby-

I couldn't get this song off my mind today. My mam would sing it as she went about her daily duties. Sometimes, she would even whistle the tune (and I'd try and copy her). We had the song on a scratchy LP record, too. I never knew each verse; just the chorus.

And cleaning windows was my profession today. Not actually cleaning the glass, but rather - applying paint stripper (professional brand. Nasty, burny stuff), leaving it on for ten minutes until the paint bubbles, then scraping it off with my trusty 38mm AND 50mm paint scrapers. Man, those scrapers are handy tools. So multifunctional!

Tomorrow, I get to use POWER TOOLS. The sanding machine, in fact - to smooth off any excess glossy paint.

No, wait.

I won't be able to use the power tools tomorrow, for the Grands are coming over. The Machinist phoned them yesterday and invited them for Sunday roast. I get to resume my domestic duties instead.

While I was singing my rendition of "When I'm Cleaning Windows", mixed with sudden outbursts of "Play that Funky Music, White Boy" and pondering why I put the two together in the first place, the Machinist was right next door, in the laundry room, fitting the back door and window. Definitely not the vocal malingering type, he, too, belted out his own version of the White Boy song.

I don't think the Machinist knows the Windows song at all. If he does, he didn't let on. If the neighbours who live over the hill at the rear of the Grand's Cottage didn't know either song, quite well before, they will now....

Eave Cleaning

Another day of icy, sleety, windy rain and working on the Grand's Cottage with the Machinist. This time, wearing my own brand of Armani tracksuit pants and son's jacket, which the Machinist had zipped and buttoned for me - right up under my chin (when you're wearing those leather labourer's gloves, you're all fingers and thumbs). So there I was - a picture of beauty, with stray strands of hair, rebelling against their ties. "I look really attractive today, don't I, Machinist?"

"Of course"

Number one son started chuckling.

"The Machinist thinks I always look beautiful, don't you?" I asked, looking up at the Machinist from the task of unpicking a roll of masking tape.

"You know I do..."

Ahhh.... So utterly reassuring....

I was supposed to be painting the eaves and guttering with Duragal, but as everyone knows, you can't paint in the rain, so the Machinist set me to the task of cleaning inside. Lots of empty tile boxes, plastic wrap, crumbled cement and grout, the Tiler's (numerous) cigarette butts, crushed pieces of chalky gyprock left over from tearing down mould-infested walls, a variety of broken tiles, the Tiler's snack wrappers, crumpled newspapers fully of paint-stripped paint (the girls have spent four days stripping many years' worth of lead and non-lead based paint from one window frame alone), sanding dust, broken pieces of quad (used in lengths to cover the joints between pieces of gyprock in the 'olden days'), villaboard off-cuts.

I was thinking about grouping tools and materials together and labelling them - "Plumbing", "Electrical", "Painting", "Gardening", "Power tools" etc etc, while gathering yet another pile of waste with a stiff bristled broom, when I heard the Machinist calling my name.

"I need you to help me divert the water from the rusty gutter, as well as finish scraping the flaking paint from the eaves before the weather gets worse"

Don't you hate it when you're just getting 'into' something?

"Ok, I'll be there just now. I first want to finish sweeping my 99th pile of dirt..."

And so - there was the Machinist and I - up on ladders in the drizzle, scraping old paint from the eaves in readiness for painting. We worked towards the corner of the building and met, looking upon each other. The Machinist blew me a kiss, and I blew one straight back to him.

Love is....

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Drainpipe Finds

The new kitchen in the Grands cottage started life as two rooms; a kitchen AND a laundry. Neither were big enough to swing a cat by its tail in, so the Machinist decided to break down the wall and make one large kitchen instead. Oh, and he let our kitties off the hook, too.

(It was a fun day knocking down that dividing wall. The Machinist couldn't stop laughing as I took "girlie" swings at the brittle villaboard, while delighting in the sound it made as vila-shrapnel hit the tiled floors).

On the downside, we were left with a solitary drainage pipe, growing out of the middle of the new kitchen floor.

Today, while visiting with the Grands in their current home, their phone rang.

"Get that, will yer, mi duck?"

Translation: "Answer the phone, will you, my dear?"

I picked up their phone:

"Hello?"

"Hello, guess what I found in the drain pipe?" said the Machinist, exitedly.

"What?"

"Two screwdrivers. Can you believe it? How anything ever drained from this laundry, I will never know.."

Yeah, I know, my darling Machinist.

I know.

The Mystery of the Sign or The Sign of Mystery?

Looking more like a troglodyte by the minute with damp, wind matted hair, wild eyes, and wearing wet-at-the-knees track pants (belonging to the Machinist) and a baggy corduroy, fur lined jacket (owned by Number one son), I trudged towards the sign.

I could hear voices, coming from beneath the awning. It was the Machinist talking with a delivery guy. I could only see the Machinist from where I was standing and he could see me. He gave me that "what are you DOING up there?" look, and was just short of giving me the head flick, (indicating that I should disappear - quick smart), when I noticed a pair of feet, then legs, then a waist ..... then....

I was outta there, baby!

Prefering to resume my quest and actually touch the sign (rather than being seen by the delivery guy in my raggedy state of disarray), I tip-toed over a network of 'I' beams, with the skill of a trapese artist. There was a gap between the 'E' and the 'S' of 'RESTAURANT'. I pulled the 'S' (perspex) panel out a little to peer inside the (non-working Neon) sign. I've no idea what I expected to find, but I did, in fact,find something. A screwed up bundle of clothes was wrapped around the inner framework. The only reason I actually PUT my hand inside the sign was because it was daylight and I could see that there were no creepy insects, vermin or reptiles.

The panel bulged as I pulled the items of clothing from their harbinger of who-knows how many years. The first item was a navy blue ladies tracksuit top. Size medium. The second item was a navy blue ladies tracksuit pants. Also size medium. I left them - crumpled and forlorn on our wet tin roof. I knew what I had to do....

"Hello, Constable ----. How can I help you?"

"Oh, hello, this may sound strange, but I've just found a complete ladies tracksuit stuffed into the roof sign on the old Roadhouse..."

A policeman called around to our Shop later that day. He even climbed up the ladder onto the roof to inspect the clothing and confirmed that the dirty streaks on each item of clothing were definitely not blood stains. He promised to speak with his detectives about missing persons in our area, and call back to let us know whether to keep the 'evidence' or dispose of it. Early the next morning, he phoned and spoke to the Machinist.

We are to dispose of the evidence.

The mystery still remains, however.

Signing out,
Miss Marple.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Things You Find on a (Wet) Tin Roof

The Machinist is concerned with the insufficient water drainage at our Shop. The Shop roof coverage is huge, which means we SHOULD get a river of water running into the two concrete water tanks when it rains. The trouble is - we don't, because the gutters, although surprisingly still in good condition, are full of ten year's worth of leaves and pine needles, - rotted down into moss covered thick sludge. The gutters run the whole perimeter of the Shop roof, but there are only four downpipes, so when the rain comes down, it simply spills up and over the gutters, sometimes seeping into the eaves, but more than often, - dripping onto the ground around the building's foundations.

I sense this is not good. No wonder some of the rooms have mouldy inner walls....

The stormwater drains at the bottom of each downpipe are too small to cope with a sudden, fast influx of rainwater, and the ground surrounding the drains - particularly at the back of the Grand's Cottage - makes a squishy sound when we walk on it. We have skidded a few times, too, on the mud rink.

I was not surprised, then, when the Machinist set up a ladder, and pushed me up the ladder to scoop the organic material out of the gutters. I didn't want to go up there, but he pushed me....rung by rung.

I have to tell you at this point that a gutter scooper simply does not work. It scoops the material along the gutter, but when you want to lift the scoop out of the gutter and toss your bounty to the ground with a satisfying splat, most of it falls right back into the gutter again. (A 38mm paint scraper and a flick of the wrist works much better!)

Scooping gutter crud by kneeling on a tin roof is hard on a girl's knees, too. Every meter or so, I had to stand, stretch and bend at the waist to scoop, with my butt in the air, just so that my knee caps could feel the blood rush through them once again. Rain, wind and cold wet patches on - ahem - the Machinist's track pants that I was wearing weren't motivating factors for the job, and soon enough, I became bored and decided to investigate the expanse of tin.

On my expedition, I came across a multitude of odd items; items one would not expect to find on a wet tin roof. I told myself off for forgetting to bring the digital camera with me (yet again); the Machinist would be riveted with pictures of my finds. Surely.

I began gathering the items and displayed them together on one of the tin roof sheets. Large stones (had someone been pegging the magpies and cockatoos?), broken glass from a bottle, many rusty screws with washers attached (why hadn't the roof repairer moved them?), a long, pointy nozzle applicator for a tube of silicone, a paint brush handle (no bristles attached), a rusty tin lid, an electric switch box, pieces of electric chord, scattered balls of magpie regurgitation, a vignette of moss covered chicken bones (I think they're chicken bones, but I've often been wrong about these matters), and larger, more fossilised bones.

"What the....?"

I had been so consumed with my treasure hunt that I hadn't realised how close I was to the front awning, stretching over the old petrol bowsers and supporting the huge sign which reads
R E S T A U R A N T (and will one day soon read M E T A L S M I T H E R Y).

More on this tomorrow, for tonight, my lids are closing.... Please stay tuned.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Settlement and the Septic Systems

At last, settlement has taken place.

We are now owners of an unused petrol station - known as the Old Roadhouse, on a section of road which has been by-passed from the main highway for well over 15 years. Travellers still love to take the detour, though. Perhaps it breaks the monotony of highway driving, as they enter our small town, follow the main road and exit further along, back on to the highway. Or, perhaps they have a warped fettish to be embroiled in a scene like something from "The Hills Have Eyes".

Either way, venture into our small town and be lucky if you get out the other end... we will keep you here....

Snigger snigger... snort...

The Old Roadhouse (soon to be known as "Metalsmithery", but we sometimes refer to it as "the shop") comprises of a large gallery, a 16 metre commercial kitchen (gutted), an old cool room which still has ancient wooden panels, dark and dingy store rooms, a kitchen once used by the truckies (who travelled through our town when the old bridge was stronger and could take the truck weight), male and female toilets and a three bedroom cottage attached.

Did I just say "toilets"?

Since our takeover, we've bashed down mould infested walls, replaced broken windows, ripped a bathroom and kitchen apart, hacked down 10 years of undergrowth (in the cottage garden alone), removed trailer loads of rubbish, cleaned toilets, chain sawed old trees, ...

What? What was that? Toilets?

10 years of non cleaning, non disinfecting, non flushing toilets seem to have been the reason for my existence during the past couple of days. Indigent toilets and grease traps and septic tanks. Indigent of regular water flushes, and suction maintenance performed by our trusty A1 Cleaning man, Bob.

Bob is a force to be reckoned with. He has a huge red truck with a huge tank fitted on the back of the truck and a huge hose attached to the side of the tank. Bob stores his "working gear" on the side of his truck, but wears the same hat in and outside of the cabin. His winter beanie hat reads "Same Shit Different Day".

Sorry about that swear word, but it's just so fitting, 'cos that's what Bob has to deal with. Every day. It doesn't bother him, though, as he is just so pleasant and sports a good attitude at all times. Even when the wind and rain laces his face while loading his pumps, he is passionate about his vocation in life and will gladly explain the process of "sludge", "water" and "crust" to any who will hear.

It's me I worry about, though. What a sad state of affairs when one refers to one's septic tanks with pet names because one has spent quality time getting to know them. Helping to lift their lids, carting water while Bob stirs the sludge and suctions it out, as well as devising a plan to eradicate the Old Plum Tree's roots which have found their way into the dark depths of the tank's bellies.

"Motherload", "Sister Act" and "Cus"

Help! I need a life!