Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sometimes procrastination can taste good

I'm self employed and thus have had a long-standing relationship with procrastination.  It's an illicit relationship; one that I've always felt a bit guilty about.  In the many working hours that I have spent lying on the couch reading about procrastination on the internet, I don't think I've come across anything that paints it as possibly being something worthwhile.  I have read about the merit in taking time out for a bit of play to stimulate creativity, or putting off a taxing task until a high-energy period of the day, but nothing extolling real procrastination, that of the have-something-on-the to-do-list-and-just-haven't-got-it-done kind.

So, I was surprised a couple of weeks ago to see my procrastination paying off. Big time. Paying off in fresh blackberries.

The topic of blackberries is usually a very painful one for me.  Blackberries are a terrible weed in Gippsland and my property is riddled with them. Perhaps a blackberry infestation is not so bad if one is not committed to organic principles and thus happy to poison them into submission. I am managing the property organically and this means a lot of backbreaking work chopping back blackberry canes and prising roots out of the ground. To add insult to the injury, in three years I had never had so much as one fresh blackberry. The canes that had been there for years didn't produce, and any fruit that did survive was shriveled and inedible, I think because of the drought.

Two years ago my dad came over and we spent two backbreaking days clearing one of the worst infestations, along a whole bank. I did mean to redo the bank last year to get the regrowth, I really did.  I just didn't get to it.

But, owing to a combination of blackberries fruiting on two year old wood and great rain in spring, my procrastination is currently paying off in kilos and kilos of fresh blackberries.  It's fantastic. 

Next time I'm lying on the couch instead of working, I'm going to save my guilt. Perhaps there's something unexpectedly good at the end of it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Introducing the house: bedroom two

This bedroom is tucked away in the middle of the house.  It's small and cozy and I like to sleep here in winter.


Part of one of the walls (this is facing the bed in the above picture) has exposed bricks from the back of the fireplace in the next room.

Here's a detail shot by Nina. There's just something about a crisp white bed isn't there?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Introducing the house: bedroom one

Bedroom one is at the front right hand side of the house (if you are standing outside facing the house). Here it is looking in one of its windows from the front veranda.

The room is a bright yellow, a colour that I would never have painted it myself, but I've become oddly fond of it.


The chair beside the bed and the table next to it (it tilts up) are both Victorian and made of paper mache.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Introducing the house: the lounge

It's time for more of the house tour; this time the lounge. What is now the lounge was created when I knocked down a wall between a bedroom and the kitchen to make a bigger open-plan space for  cooking and living.  I had a new log burning fire put in when the old-fashioned stove in the kitchen, which was being used for heating, was removed.  

The plan is to make the window, which looks out onto a beautiful view,  into glass doors out to the deck.

There's a door to the hallway, which is no longer needed now the room is combined with the kitchen, so that's eventually going to go.  The dado rail with vertical paneling also now doesn't match the kitchen, which has all horizontal paneling, so the walls will also need to be redone.

And, because they look pretty here's a close-up of the detail of flowers from the garden (photograph by Nina).

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Inspirations: Andrew's trees

My friend Andrew has the great talent of being able to infect anyone around him with his enthusiasm for whatever he is currently enthusiastic about. It was his passionate advocacy of the benefits of a house in the country that convinced me to seriously look at it as an option for myself.  Thank goodness he did.

Our houses are very different though.  Mine is done in what I like to call old-cottage-on-neglected-land-purchased-at-a-mortgagee-sale style.  His is done in what I like to call gay-boys-do-the-country style: it's modern and immaculate, filled with art, polished concrete and designer lamps, and surrounded by sweeping lawns with stands of trees.  It's absolutely gorgeous. Those are his trees in the photograph above (snapped by my talented photographer friend Nina). 

Andrew and his partner Jayson also achieve puzzlingly superhuman amounts of work. This type of conversation is typical for us:
Me: "I'm exhausted. I worked on my herb garden this afternoon and planted ten new herbs."
Andrew: "Yes, we're pretty tired too. We've been planting the 2000 lavender and 1500 agapanthus plants that have just arrived."

Sometimes I say to Andrew that given the snail-like pace I'm going with my house and garden I may need to retire to the comfort of his. He thinks I'm joking.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Introducing the house: the kitchen

Okay, so I have been droning on about this house for six months now without showing you very much of it. Just expecting really, that you're conjuring up some sort of vision for yourself. So I'm going to be more assiduous with showing you around, starting this week with the kitchen.

Ta da ... here it is as at a few weeks ago.  Sorry that you can't quite see the sink, you'll get a better view a little further down. That's me resplendent in my gardening clothes reflected in the oven mirror.  That's the back door out to the deck.

One of my visions for the house is for it to be a cook's haven with a feeling of warmth and abundance; the kind of place that people spend hours sitting around a big table chatting, helping themselves from platters of amazing food and quaffing wine.  So the oven had to be generous and the food preparation area very open.  Just off to the side you can see the big walk-in pantry.  When guests arrive they are immediately introduced to the pantry and the fridge and told to help themselves from that moment on.  I helped design the island bench and had it made by a place in Melbourne called Industria.

This is the kitchen when I first moved in.  I heated the house and cooked everything for the first two years on that old wood oven.

Here is the same corner a few weeks later after a lot of sweat and elbow grease. 

After two years I pulled the wood oven out.  It may have looked adorable and rustic, but I was not sad to see it go.  In winter keeping the fire stoked for cooking was cosy. In an Australian summer, far too cosy. 

The picture above shows the forest green ceiling in all of its glory. It made the room dark. The other thing you can see from the ceiling beam in this photo is where a wall used to be. The kitchen was tiny and having it separate from the lounge didn't fit with the casual and open entertaining I like to do so I had the wall ripped out by my trusty friend Troy the builder.  It makes what was the  adjacent bedroom into the lounge.

I also replaced the small table with the big old army trestle table that I actually bought for the deck. It is living indoors until I get an indoor table. The door that you can see is the door to the bathroom.

Then I had the kitchen cabinets ripped out. You can just see them in the right of the photo of the original kitchen. They were filthy and mice-infested and I was never able to bring myself to put anything into them.  That window looks out to a stunning view of rolling green hills.  When I can scrape together enough cash, that entire wall will be replaced by huge glass doors and windows.

In November last year I had the ceiling painted white and a combined dishwasher and sink installed. It's an amazing stainless steel Smeg beast of a thing. I got both that and the oven, also Smeg, from an online auction. They are both used demonstation models.

There's still a lot more to be done, but it's starting to get there.