Monday, May 31, 2010

Death. Definitely not becoming her.

When I bought the country house I promised myself that I would not become the squealing-city-girl-in-the-country cliche. Yet there I find myself unable to squash a slug, there I find myself destroying my own toilet due to maladministration of a hammer and now I find myself caught up in an unseemly incident with dead rabbits.

The first rabbit startled me while I was traipsing around pulling out weeds in a front garden bed. There it lay, soft and whole under a swathe of long grass, a glazed eye to the clouds. I calculated its length relative to my spade (long enough to reach mid-thigh if it was on its haunches pawing at me for mercy) and made my decision: I would go next door and delegate the problem to my neighbours. This strategy has worked well previously in the removal of bats and Huntsman spiders.

Soon my problem was in the capable hands of Sue, a nurse. She whisked out a rubbish bag, commandeered the spade and set about shoveling the rabbit into the bag while I cringed Carrie Bradshaw-like on the sidelines. Then I noticed her sheep-crossed-with-another-dog Molly in a nearby garden bed enthusiastically chewing. 'Molly looks like she's eating a steak,' I said staying firmly in my place. 

In my cloistered city life most of the fears and discomforts that I face are non-tangible, such as possible rejection or disapproval. My fear and discomfort in the country relates to the physical: dying bats, slimy slug entrails, decomposing rabbits. One of the reasons that I bought the country house was an urge to be more connected to the natural world. I make my living as a business consultant and I spend a lot of time in my mind toying with words and ideas. I like it there but I felt an urge to reconnect with the natural world, to balance constant mental action with meaningful physical action, to get my hands in dirt.

I will spare you the details of what happened next except to say that it involved a tug of war between Sue and Molly and the carcass of another rabbit, accompanied by the sounds of tearing rabbit cartilidge, the rustling of the rubbish bag and my screams.

Musing on my behaviour later, I asked myself, 'What is it that I'm actually afraid of'? The sight of an entrail? The smell of blood on my gardening glove? The feeling of a few kilos of inert flesh?  And I realised that I may have gone outside into nature but I'm still hanging out with the fear in my mind.

Sue left with my profuse thanks but without the bag of carcasses and it felt wrong to put them in the rubbish. I stared at the bag and decided to delegate the task of burying it to my father, who would be visiting in a week.  By the time he arrived the bag contained only bloodstains. Another animal had done my dirty work.

I do want to change and I'm going to make an effort. I don't want to be a cliche. And if I can be the woman who can overcome her imaginary fears and bury a rabbit in the country, who knows what I'll be able to do in the city?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Two kinds of autumn weekend happiness

Harriet the shoe cleaner who lives at the back door catching some early morning sun.

A precious slice of morning sun in bedroom two.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Introducing the house: ablutions area

I'm not sure where I stand on the whole issue of revealing the bathroom to guests when I'm showing them around. Not wanting to err on the side of too much information, I usually don't. But we have reached the end of our tour of the house and a decision must be made.  Perhaps I should leave it here, with a peek from the kitchen through the bathroom to the laundry door?

Perhaps though there are some of you out there burning to see the bathroom? Maybe the tour would feel unfinished if I didn't? As a curious person - some would actually say deeply nosy - I would like to see the bathroom if I was reading this blog, so I'll assume that you might too.

There will be significant renovation one day when I have the cash. But the bath is deep and good for easing aching post-gardening bones, so it does for now.

I will draw the line at showing you the toilet. Instead I'll tell you a story about what happens when you combine a stinking hot over-40 degree Australian summer's day, an old toilet seat and a diminutive and pre-menstrual redhead armed with a new toilet seat and a large hammer.

You're already wondering about the hammer aren't you? I didn't start out with it, just with a screwdriver and the good intention of replacing the old wooden toilet seat with a new plastic one. One of the reasons that I bought the house was to learn to be more hands-on practical. I reasoned that this was a task that even I could handle.  Looking back, I suspect that this is where my reasoning started to go astray. 

I discovered that the screws attaching the old seat to the toilet had fused with age into the porcelain base.  It was then that I made my second error of reasoning: that tapping a screw from underneath with a hammer may loosen it. This was actually correct. Unfortunately it also loosened off, well, actually smashed off the entire porcelain corner holding the screw.

It was here that things started to go really awry. I blame the heat and hormones. I looked at the one missing corner and decided that if I smashed off the other corner I might still be able to balance the seat on top. So I smashed it off.  Stepping back to admire my handiwork, an urgent question arose: what happens when I flush the toilet?  Flash forward ten minutes and I'm standing in the plumbing supplies shop ordering an emergency toilet replacement.

So I have a new toilet. Which was a good outcome, really.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Death still doesn't become her

I'm sure that you must be dying for an update on my slug dilemma.  On the weekend I was greeted by a fetid container of decomposing slugs.  I have definitely abandoned slug drowning.  Still not desperate enough to squash slugs, my strategy this weekend was to set up a Survivor situation where I threw them on the top of one of my big water tanks. I figured that if the slug managed to crawl across the tank and down the side before being eaten by a bird it could be rewarded with life. The tank isn't that close to the herb garden so if one manages to crawl up the hill back into the sage it will be a small miracle.  Urrgh. That's such a horrid thought so replace it with a picture of my bird's nest arrangement (by Nina).

The big event for the weekend was that I learned to push a wheelbarrow properly. Did you know that there is a proper wheelbarrow technique?  I didn't. We didn't cover that sort of useful skill in journalism school. My task was to fill a small pond with some dirt and compost that had been delivered and left on the driveway.  After many loads, I was whingeing about my aching arms to my neighbour .  He told me that you are supposed to load the weight  of the contents over the wheel rather than the handles.  What a difference that makes!  The rest of the job was much easier.  I am telling myself that my new-found practical wheelbarrowing skills surely cancel out my girly slug squeamishness?