Small Family in Six Suitcases

Hi. How are you? We're a family of three who moved to New Zealand from Seattle in July '05. We sold or gave away pretty much everything except what we could carry onto the 'plane. We thought we'd write a bit about it. We'll love it if you can join us for a few moments.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Do It Ourself

Man, has it been a real homeowner's week here! Teeming with stuff around and about the house. Any week when you end up using the phrases "blue gum", "Khalaf rug" and "10% goes straight out your floors" within a country mile of each other is a gen-u-ine homeowner's week.

I've already hitched up my jeans with my thumbs twice this morning, and the clever money is on my doing so twice more before lunch.

First cab off the rank, we caught our (we think lone, renegade) mouse a few days ago. I had made a humane trap out of an inverted pop bottle, and it worked. I came out to the kitchen late on Sunday evening and heard him scratching around in the bottom of the bottle where I had put crackers and peanut butter. So we carefully covered the trap, transferred him gingerly to the van, then Vera went out near midnight, drove several miles avoiding all road bumps, and stamped on his neck. Just kidding: she released him. And so far, no more droppings or gnawing noises. Not even from me.

Then we had to order more firewood and work out whether the chimney needs cleaning. And, golly, if anyone needs a name of someone good to sweep their chimney in this area, let me know. The guy helped me with 20 minutes of free advice over the phone, waiting on the line while I did flue and burn tests. In the end he said "Don't spend your money on hiring me, just get some really good wood". So we're having a mix of gum, oak and softwood delivered this weekend.

Our polished timber floors are also -- what a surprise -- chilly now that winter is here. So we have been finding out about underfloor insulation options. We did a partial quick fix by buying a huge Egyptian rug, very cheaply, from The Warehouse. It covers the whole kitchen area. That helps a lot, as should the efficient firewood.

Terrifically, we got to know our neighbors Sharon and Alan, and their children, better this week. Sharon is a writer with, among other things, a number of children's books published. They have helped us so much already with tips and encouragement, and this weekend we plan to do a tit-for-tat whereby Alan will mow our lawns with his wonderful sit-on mower and we will trim their garden edges with a weed whacker.

(Now when two writers find out about each other in a small community, it can be what P.G.Wodehouse would call a real Damon-and-Pythias moment, and anyone trying to get a word in edgewise between them is in a position akin to a chimp with clipped toenails attempting to carve a foothold into a diamond cliff-face. Sharon and I had a good chat, and Winston and I went to look round their great family home and property. They have built a laundry chute and Winston was amused to see his shoes suddenly pop out of it seemingly from nowhere.)

Oh, and to cap our whole rugged week I trimmed my beard over the bathroom sink last night and only used one piece of kitchen towel to try to wipe out the bits from the bowl. The rest I just scooshed down the plughole with tap water. I just don't care, slow-blocking hazard or no slow-blocking hazard. My house.

Okay, back to shoving some fingers into the belt loops of my denims. It's hitching time.


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