First Impressions

Having moved house over the weekend here are some of my first impressions…

We moved in on Friday and the removalists left around 7.30pm, just as the rain arrived, after doing the slowest days work I have ever seen. They didn’t damage anything, but then they weren’t moving fast enough to bump anything either. I won’t name the business but I wouldn’t use them again. Best forgotten.

In the busyness of unloading I didn’t get around to hitching up the gas bottle so we had no hot water on Friday night. Danelle and kids heated a few ‘kettle loads’ of water, but I wanted a shower so I just jumped in and it was icy! It wasn’t one of those moments when you say ‘its ok once you’re in’. It wasn’t. So first thing Saturday morning I was out getting that one sorted.

We really enjoyed having some old friends up on Saturday and despite being half unpacked it was nice to relax and just share the ‘newness’ with them.

I was worried that we wouldn’t fit very well as the internals are smaller than our Butler home, but we managed to arrange things so they work really well. I had renovations and extensions on my mind all before the move, but I’m not sure they are so critical now.

I managed to land a disgusting cold on Saturday which has floored me up until around dinner time today. That was annoying, but we just had to soldier on with unpacking, fix ups and getting settled. Tonight the headaches and snot have decreased and I am feeling semi-human again, so I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep and starting to enjoy myself. (Although we fly out to the Gold Coast for a week tomorrow night)

Its been beautiful to wake up each morning and see the beach – and even better to watch its mood change throughout the day. I don’t think I will ever tire of that. A rainbow spanned the dark grey horizon today before the storms came and as we met to pray it was a stunning sight.

The ‘spa’ incident I wrote about last post did leave a bad taste and of course there were a few other surprises to contend with also. Nothing a toolbox and a few hours work couldn’t solve – and that was what I did today. All the ‘little things’ that would give you the irrits or that just need doing. We ended up negotiating a cash settlement with the agent and the lesson out of it all is don’t trust someone’s word. Write it all down… I knew that, but thought this time we could run without it… Should have known better and in the future even if we’re buying from our best friends we will be dotting i’s and crossing t’s. Shame you cant just trust people…

So we are settling, but not settled. While Danelle feels she’s died and gone to heaven it doesn’t quite feel like home yet to me. I need to establish some routines and find ‘my place’ in this new environment. I imagine that will take a few weeks and will come easier when I’m not sick.

We had a bloke come around today and install a TV antenna (one of the ‘suprises’ was that none of the TV points recieved a signal from the antenna. He did a great job and charged a very decent price for his time and work. He trades as the TV Doctor so if you need some work done be sure to call John and he will take care of you – even if its bucketing down with rain like it was today.

So tomorrow we head off to a niece’s wedding in Coff’s Harbour and along the way catch up with some wonderful friends who were part of our Upstream crew, but are now living in Tumbulgum northern NSW.

I haven’t lifted a shovel for a week now and I won’t be back at it until July 12th. That’s a nice feeling…

Building & Moving

I’m having a coffee break in the moving process this morning and waiting for the ‘heavy grunt’ to roll up and shift the big stuff. I’ve shuttled all day yesterday and another couple of runs this morning, but heavy stuff I’m paying other people to do.

We have built twice and bought established 4 times in our 20 years together and each has their strengths.

When you like to be in control and know exactly what your finished product will be, building is good. When you want to let someone else do a lot of the set up work (and you’re happy to modify as needed) then buying est is good.

Of course buying established means dealing with owners, agents etc and this morning turned into a little bit of a schmozzle as we arrived to see that the spa which we had bought as part of the purchase has been removed and a fence smashed down to get it out. Not a great way to start the day.

Those things tend not to happen when you build, but when the previous owner is not in a good place and life is falling apart then anything is possible I guess. I was angry at the rudeness of it all, but given we haven’t settled yet in figuring the purchase price will be about $4k less than agreed and as I was going to sell it, it’s saved me the hassle.

I’m wondering what other surprises we will discover as we move in… Inevitably there is stuff that can be hidden in inspection that only shows in the ‘living’. I’m ok with that as you agree to take that gamble when buying est.

So we leave a home we designed and built to go to a place someone else designed, built and modified and we will need to do our own mods too.

See you on the other side…

Last Days

There is a strange and tense vibe in our home this week as we spend our last few days at 5 Writtle St. We hover between excitement and anxiety as we pack and begin the process of moving.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing as the owner of the house we are moving into isn’t in a good way personally and has left a lot of stuff to the last minute. Yesterday the real estate agent and his mate were moving her stuff as she hadn’t got around to finding removalists. Our real estate agent is a likeable maverick, but his laid back approach has left us wondering and anxious at times. Does anyone else know a real estate agent who moves his clients?!

We did a pre-settlement inspection today and the house was still dirty, the dishwasher broken, the oven not working and several other items were still in the highly dubious category. The owner had obviously been smoking in it as it smelt pretty bad. Not impressed. Apparently the rest of the cleaning will be finished tomorrow…

It wasn’t a nice feeling and while we feel for the owner and their difficult place in life we’d hoped for a lot better. Its not a good footing to get off on.

Then there’s that feeling of wondering ‘if this will work’. Have we made a good decision or are we going to regret this? I am sure some ‘surprises’ will await when we move in, but our goal at the moment it reduce them to a minimum and check as much as we can.

Back here, Danelle has been the ‘packing nazi’ and done a sensational job of getting everything sorted. I still look around and think ‘come Friday there’s a lot of stuff still to be tucked away somewhere though…’ I’m sure we’ll get it sorted.

And then there’s work, and church and speaking on the weekend and… life…

As we drove home today the kids were hyper – both excited and nervous squabbling with each other. I think Danelle and I have both had our moments of wondering if we have made the right decision and the nasty state of the house as we arrived today didn’t help.

Then there’s leaving Writtle St, not a place I have a great sentimental attachment to, but still a significant part of our lives and the only home the kids have really known.

We have bought this house with the intention of doing some work to it and of learning a bit about the process of fixing up a place. On my good days I am looking forward to the challenge… and on other days I just wonder if we are in for more than we bargained for…

But I remind myself that that’s what adventure is about. There is no adventure without at least a little anxiety, so stay tuned to see how this next stage unfolds.

Right now its just stressful – but I’m hoping that will change!

Got a Reticulation Problem?

Then you might find my retic blog useful.

I’ve been writing on it for a couple of months now getting the content up to speed and I have even had a few calls and emails from random strangers thanking me for it because its helped them do some DIY that otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to manage.

It’s hardly the ducks nuts of all things DIY, but I think you’ll find most common questions answered there and if you have a question that doesn’t get answered then I’d love to hear it and make a post out of it.

So if you’re planning on doing your own turf and retic and need a bit of knowledge then have a look. You might find it useful

The Price of ‘Being Bothered’

I came home from work the other day and the dishwasher was stopping on its usual cycle. It would run, stop, run stop and so on…

The filters were clean, the hoses weren’t kinked. Beyond that I wasn’t sure exactly what it might be. ‘A blockage’ the girl at the service centre suggested… but it was draining ok intermittently so I figured it must be the drain pump.

‘You do realise that if its not a warranty issue then it will cost you $121.00?’

‘Yep – no worries’ I said. I just couldn’t be bothered pulling it all apart and fiddling with it. I was tired and the dishwasher was the last thing I felt like putting time into.

Of course by now you can guess what happened. On Friday afternoon the nice man came to our door to look at it. He turned it on and listened for all of 5 seconds to it drain.

‘You’ve got food stuck in the spigot’ He said.

I said nothing. I had nothing to say. There was nothing I could say…

He proceeded to undo the clamp around the bottom hose and sure enough there was crap lodged there – the kind of crap that would intermittently allow water thru and then seal up again.

‘How would you like to pay?’

The cost of ‘being bothered’?

Precisely $121.00.

But you know, some days you just pay it don’t you? Some days its not worth $121.00 to come home from work and pull it all apart, get frustrated and annoyed…

Then again next time I know where to look… Maybe it was $121.00 for an education!

Ordinary Time

If you follow the church calendar you’d know we are back in ‘ordinary time’, the days and weeks that don’t seem to have any special significance, as distinct from advent, easter etc. Ordinary time can seem quite… well… ‘ordinary’, but for the rest to be special we need to have the ‘ordinary’.

I was meeting with Ryan this morning, our youth pastor at QBC and reflecting that as a church we seem to be in ‘ordinary time’. Its a steady period where things are ticking along and there isn’t much to either get wildly excited about, nor to get madly depressed about. You could go looking for the next hill to climb (as I regularly do) or you could accept that we need these periods as part of our health.

I sense we need ‘ordinary time’ in between the highs and lows just to allow us to experience some regularity and some consistency. I used to detest the ‘ordinary’, but given most of life is extraordinarily ordinary I am learning to value it and the place it holds in both my own personal psyche and our collective psyche.

Its a time to walk steadily and enjoy all around that is good as we wait to hear from God and reflect on what comes next.

No More Hobby

I’m fairly sure that one of the key skills you need when starting a business is the ability to ‘bluff’ – to pretend you know something that in reality you have no clue about, but equally to have the resourcefulness to be able to find the answers.

When I started Brighton Reticulation in 2008 I knew a bit about Retic but there was a hell of a lot I had no clue about – and ironically it’s only now that I realize just how much I didn’t know… If I knew then how much I didn’t know I might never have given it a whirl. In the first few months of work I relied on persistence, logic and the occasional call to the staff at Total Eden to bale me out when I was stumped. It got me thru.

But then I did start off doing it as a hobby with nothing to lose… I was having fun and wasnt too concerned if work came in or if things were quiet, but things have changed.

It was only this week that I actually acknowledged it. I have always seen Retic and turf as something I would do for a few years, but would drop once I got bored. But this week as I upgraded my trailer I realised this has got pretty serious… I needed a new trailer to fit all my stuff on. A trencher, a compacter, lawn leveller, wheelbarrow etc.

When I started I had a couple of shovels which I tossed in the back of the car and a handful of parts. Now I’m a mobile retic shop and refuse to use substandard tools.

Ok this isn’t a hobby any more…

So what is it?

I don’t see myself as a retic and turf bloke, but that is what I do. I guess I am still getting used to being a blue collar worker after so long in a white collar world. It’s been a gradual shift in my sense of identity and while I don’t want to feel bound to ‘Retic and turf’ I do need to acknowledge that I could be doing this for another 10 years if I play it smart.

If you’d told me 10 years ago that I would be doing manual labour for a crust I would have laughed you off. I hated getting my hands dirty and I was infamous for my lack of handyman skills.

But here I am now. It’s not a hobby any more… It’s a… I struggle to find the word. A business?…

Yep, but it’s more than that.

A passion?…

Hmmm… Probably stretching the definition of the word, but I do enjoy it a heap and live the freedom of being my own boss.

A job? Nope. I don’t like the thought of just doing something for the financial reward.

An adventure… I guess this is the word I would choose because it just keeps unfolding in ways that I don’t expect. I keep learning and discovering as I go and yet I never feel like I can say ‘made it’.

I guess that’s why I’m still going. A hobby is fun – and adventure is fun, but in a different way.

The last few weeks I have been filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the shape my life takes. Working hard on a cool sunny day, interacting with interesting people, doing a damn good job and seeing people happy, lunching by the beach, getting home early, being paid well for my efforts… I could go on… But I’m a fortunate man.

I’ve had some dark moments in the last few months as I have wondered where life is headed but right now I think it’s ‘more of the same’ and I’ve got to say I’m pretty happy about that.

My email signature has a quote from Helen Keller that says ‘life is a daring adventure or nothing at all’ and I guess I am feeling the adventure quotient on the rise again. That’s gotta make you joyful!

A First

We’re getting quite excited about moving house shortly.

There have been some stuff ups with the settlement process so we’re still not sure exactly what date it will be, but its getting closer… which is good because we’re ready. Hopefully we’re looking at June 24th, but someone hasn’t got their arse into gear with the detail so it may blow out beyond that.

I used to love moving house and in the first 6 years of our marriage we moved 7 times, but the last two moves have been for 7 & 8 years respectively.

What’s interesting about this one (for us) is that its the first time in our days of owning a home that we have moved just because we feel like we’d like to live somewhere. Every other time has been guided or driven by our call to mission and ministry. By that I mean previous moves have seen us locate to a suburb close to where we would be working as missionaries/church leaders, but this time while our roles haven’t changed, we felt like we wanted to live somewhere different.

I can’t say there has been any great sense of God at work, nor has there been any sense of him saying ‘whoa…’. (Actually I think most of life is like that – ‘I’ve given you a brain. Make a decision!’ Although there are clearly specific times when God’s voice overrides whatever the ‘brain’ might be saying.)

So this time we move because we like the look and feel of the suburb. We like the house. We’re ready for a change. But the ‘mission motivation’ isn’t primary. I don’t think that’s a problem because we are who we are wherever we are.

Having said that I was reflecting with a good mate yesterday on what it will look like for us to live in Yanchep. I was pondering what might transpire, especially if we aren’t trying to make it happen. We don’t go there with any intention of planting a church, or starting anything… but I know that sometimes in those times when you least expect it God shows up.

So we will be getting on with leading our community in Quinns, running a business, homeschooling, a bit or renovating and just enjoying discovering a new community of people. If God wants to crank something then of course we’re willing, but right now we’re happy just to live there and move for a different reason – for once!