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.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Totara floors -- which I concede sounds like the name of a jobbing showgirl, and probably one who gets men to light cigarillos at the side of her mouth -- are actually what we have underfoot in our little home. Totara is a kind of timber native to New Zealand.

I look after 'em. I have never lived anywhere with polished hardwood before and, even though winter is pretty much here and they are thus not at their warmest, I love them and sweep them and mop them not just weekly but whenever they are even halfway sullied by bootprints or crumbs.

These exposed-wood floors are in our kitchen and hallway. Although the kitchen section is pretty much covered for the winter by a rug, I carefully angle the broom and brush any dust along the length of the exposed borders, and into the dustpan. I shouldn't be surprised if, one day soon, I don't nudge an edge of the rug upwards an inch or three and check underneath to make sure the totara is still there and happy. I haven't done so yet: I just say that I might. Don't let any of the international news bureaux get above themselves and jump the gun.

I have crept past diligence and into being proprietary about our totara's upkeep. I know this because I now use the reverent construction "my floors" when talking about them, in the manner of a school caretaker imploring them kids and their blasted studded bags not to deliver a scorched-earth policy upon "my banisters" or even, in man's darkest days, "my nice linoleum".

Here's how I clean them. I fill the big oblong laundry-room sink with warm water and add a squeeze of dish liquid. Then, leaving this to steep, I go away and sweep and follow this up with the mop and sudsy water. Then the three of us huddle in one room, precisely like refugees, while the wood dries. The totara 'comes up' beautiful after that little lot.

It is my magic procedure, and I leave it with you.

What else in the last couple of days? We had a truckload of firewood delivered on Saturday, one third hardwood to two thirds softwood, and despite his limp Winston helped me stack it in the garage for hours, nay past dusk, until it was all done. And firewood is not easy stuff for a convalescing toddler to lug around.

I think he sticks close to me so that he doesn't miss out on any sun-shattering paternal Truths and Wisdoms, of which my method of cleaning floors is but one instance.


At 4:39 AM, Blogger Nik said...

Nothing quite like a fine hardwood floor, is there?

At 9:25 AM, Blogger slambe said...

Vera & Winnie just stopped by to see us/what a lovely surprise. Email me when you get a chance. Love the floors...

At 11:29 PM, Blogger Suzer said...

They're gorgeous. My trick when I had hardwood floors--Swiffer Sweeper. Run that over them as often as needed, and the actual washing will be needed less often. My hardwood floors were always shiny...nothing better!

At 11:21 PM, Blogger Word Imp said...

Okay Matt,
6 months without adding to your blog is not okay any more. I know you're out there. I've seen you.

At 4:07 AM, Blogger Té la mà Maria said...

Hello I am visiting your blog-Web and I like much. Congratulations

If you want you can visit ours, one is but irreverent and iconoclastic blog of the world, and one is in Catalonia - Spain

Thank you very much



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