Progress report

I’ve officially owned my house for one week now.

On Monday I went there with a couple of friends.  I needed to buy a ladder, so I shanghai’d a friend with a stationwagon to go to Bunnings with me.  We got there about 7:30 in the evening, and the recycling plant next door was going full pelt.  I can’t remember if I’ve even mentioned the recycling plant.  It’s this one. (If you watch the video here, I’m pretty sure the guy in front of the blue house is my bogan ex-neighbour.  More about him later.)  And, dudes.  It smelt.

At first it wasn’t that bad.  But after you’d been outside for a bit, you went inside and you realised that your eyes were stinging.  It smelt a little bit but, more than that, it was that hit-the-back-of-your-throat burning plastic effect.  It was truly unpleasant.

I went home feeling very glum.  As in, maybe this was a mistake, how am I going to deal with this every day, am I entering a totally hellish situation, glum.  I envisioned myself trapped in my house, unable to go outside because of toxic fumes.

We went back on Wednesday.  It’s fine.  Slightly pongy, but they shut down for the evenings and it fades away after about 6.  A bit noisy in the front garden, not that noticeable out the back – inside it sort of sounds like a fan going in another room.  Not ideal, sure.  I like silence.  But actually much less disturbing than our noisy neighbours at our rental, who will shout at random times and have arguments.  Certainly not as bad as the house I lived in near a freight train line, or even a passenger train crossing where the train blows its horn every time it goes past.  Every half hour or so.  Totally able to zone it out.  Phew!

We’ve been cleaning.  It’s gross.

There were obviously smokers living there – although maybe not for very long.  The first wall we cleaned had a big smear at about couch height.  When scrubbed, it oozed orange gunk – three or four wiped and scrubs later, it’s stopped.  I think.  none of the other walls were as bad – one scrub and a wipe and it’s mostly clean.  They’ll all need another go-over before I’m happy painting them, but it won’t be as much of a struggle.

We’ve cleaned the lounge room, the main bedroom, the toilet and the hallway.  I want to get the kitchen and the laundry area cleaned this week, for painting next weekend.  Puttying etc will have to happen some time then, too.

My sister has been super helpful.  She’s been supportive in general, and in particular she’s been coming with me to clean.  She’s not such a fan of cleaning the walls – well, it’s hard, and you can’t really see results, so I don’t blame her.  But on Friday we went over and while I did another go on the lounge, as well as cleaning the bedroom, she cleaned the toilet – the walls and the floor and the toilet itself – as well as sweeping out the laundry area and squishing all the spiders.  Then we went outside for a change of scene and while I dug up three cornered jacks (they’re everywhere) she cleaned out the garage.  After a while I retreated back inside where it’s less pointy to clean the hall, and she cut back one of the trees leaning over the fence.


Dear three cornerd jacks.  I WILL WIN!

I wish I’d taken a better before photo before my sister cut down half a tree!

It’s still a small disaster zone.  It’s grimy everywhere, and neglected.  The three cornered jacks are so horrible.  They’re covering the backyard, and it’s just about seeding season.  They stick in your shoes and you track them everywhere are then you step on them later – so painful.  All the bins – reguler, green and recycling – are full of rubbish from the bogan neighbours who moved out as we were looking at the house.  Full dinner sets with food still on, magazines from 1994, and one bottle of every alcoholic spirit you could think of.  Yuck.

However.  It’s starting to feel like it might be home.  I’ve had a couple of moments, walking barefoot through all the dirty room, where it felt like mine.  And once it’s painted… well.  I am very excited about the thought.

I got about a 2 square metre patch of the three cornered jacks up.  Not much, but considering that the soil in the garden is as dry and hard as concrete, and that direct pressure will allow a jack to puncture a gardening glove or even the rubber of a gumboot, I consider that a good effort.  Wile I was digging up the roots, I thought about how, although I’m not HAPPY to be digging up f*&#%ing three cornered jacks, there is certainly a sense of triumph about it.  A sense that I am winning my house.  Coming into ownership of it through all the work I’m putting in.  PROPER ownership, not just having a piece of paper that says I owe the bank my first born.  Proving to the house that I’ll take care of it.

Silly, I know.  But still.

The house next door is empty – the neighbours moved out while our house was being sold, as I said.  We peeked over the fence when we were there on Friday.  There are a bunch of trees overgrown, hanging over our fence.  Since it’s the bext fence to plant things along, I want them gone.  We peeked over and… it’s a classic bogan garden.

I think they must have just left all their furniture when they moved.  Two twin beds, a crib, a child’s bike, numerous wardrobes and other storage furniture, not to mention enough tires for at least six cars. 

I went over and nicked a tire to make a pond, and I might yoink another to plant a rosemary shrub in – apparently they make better leaves if you give them sandy and rocky soil – the oils we favour are their protection and they don’t need it as much if they are pampered.  So I’ll plant it seperate from the rest of the garden.

And we will be chopping the trees back to the fence line before anyone else moves in there.


10 thoughts on “Progress report

  1. Hooray – well done you guys! Sounds like a mammoth effort and it’s completely understandable that this might get you down a bit, but I have every confidence that you will command and conquer the entire street! Not just your house, but the neighbours as well!
    I like the idea of doing some guerrilla gardening on the empty property next door – lets face it it may never get the attention it deserves so you may as well pop on over and do some pruning in order for your fence to stay intact. As Robert Frost said – Good fences make good neighbours! Now, I never stayed in class long enough to learn what the rest of that poem really means but I’m sure it advocates pruning your neighbours trees and nicking whatever left over bits and pieces you can repurpose. Saves them paying for it to be removed?!
    Cleaning an entire house is so much more effort than you think at first huh? And painting walls can be a real effort too, we didn’t even manage to finish painting all the rooms in our flat…but I am sure you’re not as lazy as Tom and I, so you’ll have it all down pat in no time.
    And also, can I add, just take it all one step at a time – once you’ve cleaned it to your liking then the house it yours to build and improve on – don’t feel like if it’s not all done all at once that you dont have it under control. go easy on yourself please!

  2. I also had to google three cornered jacks. I now feel a bit stupid at the moaning I do when I get a prickle in my foot from our lawn. A prickle. Which can barely break the skin, let alone a GUMBOOT.

  3. Nick the crib and sell in to ebay to pay a gardener to dig up those jacks! Which I also have to google.
    Once it’s ‘yours’ – painted and furnished – you’ll feel much better. The hard yards will be done and you can sit back and get excited that you got a foot in the real estate market at the right time and that when you sell someone else will maybe buy it as their first step on the ladder.

  4. I’d never heard of three cornered jacks either before reading this post. Good luck winning the war with them, they sound hideous. And congratulations, you big home-owner you. Can’t wait to see what you do.

  5. A new home owner AND the tea towel swap? And all those other little things called life etc. Congratulations on never having to receive another Notice of Lease Termination.

    1. Yes… I really must do some tea towel making before actual moving times. Eek!

      I am looking forward to no more inspections, frankly! And no more ringing the agent every day in an attempt to get somethign fixed. Now will be ringing the tradesmen *direct!* 😛

  6. Congratulations! You’ll get there. It’s apparently perfectly normal to have a patch of doom or two in the early days – indeed I remember it well, as do some of my neighbours. The settling into the new neighbourhood can be a bit full on too. Gerard used to mutter dark things about moving far beyond the flannelette curtain. Now it’s just home. And it’s lovely to think that (as long as we pay the mortgage) we don’t ever have to move unless we want to. I love that feeling.

    I’m seeing a big screen of bird attracting native trees and shrubs next to that factory. And if they start to pong get onto the Environment Protection Authority and find out about when they’re allowed to operate etc and what your rights are (I used to have a boyfriend who lived next to a factory back when Fitzroy was still semi industrial and our contact with the EPA was remarkably helpful). There will be strict guidelines if they operate in a residential area. Also as land values go up, they will probably move, that’s what’s happening around here.

    Oooh it’s so exciting Kate!

  7. Kate, I just wanted to say congrats on your big purchase. I’m so looking forward to seeing all the love and care you put into your new home. Exciting times, aren’t they? : )

Whadya reckon?

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