Sunday, 23 January 2011

But first ...

Two little words that seem to characterise my life at present.

Whenever I think of doing something, there is always something else that has to be done first before I can get started. Sometimes a whole series of things.

Take the old propane boiler, for example.

My house is L-shaped, and the two wings of the house had separate heating systems when we moved here - one oil and one gas. When the solar tubes and thermal store were installed, we had the two systems amalgamated and the large bomb-shaped gas tank removed. But for some reason we never got around to taking out the gas boiler.

So it sits there still, along with a couple of lengths of flue pipe, the new sink top and taps, and a large box of pipe lagging (to mention just a few items), in the little room that is - or one day will be - the back kitchen. The room is tiny - a little over seven and a half feet square - and has been waiting to be fitted out for more years than I care to remember.
It is funny how you can simply ignore or, more precisely, stop seeing things. I walk past this room several times a day to get out to the garden, but because it belongs to the granny flat and not the main house I am able to ignore the fact that it looks like a building site.

Or at least I used to be able to ignore it.
Last week I must have looked at it with all my New Year zeal, and suddenly realised that this can't go on. The mess just saps my energy and the inertia it creates spreads to all the other areas of my life too. If I don't get it sorted, it will keep on holding me down. Unfortunately my BIL won't be able to come back and do the work for months, if at all this year, so I am just going to have to bite the bullet and find someone else to fit the kitchen that has been sitting in the spare bedroom for at least 4 years now. Just get it done!

But first...
But first I need to have the room plastered so I can sit down with someone with the final measurements and decide what will go where - and in such a tiny room it will have to be done right. So that means I need to empty the room.
No problem, I'm on a roll with my major declutter. Just carry on in the same vein.

But first I have to get rid of that boiler.
Everything was disconnected, so it should have been plain sailing from there. Onto the sack truck, out to the car and a big heave to get it inside.


Here we go again. Can't shift it. I don't know what they put inside gas boilers, but it weighs a ton. Why does it always boil down to me not being physically strong enough to move things? When R had heavy things to move, he could ask me to help him, and together we could usually manage. Where is he when I need someone to lend a hand? That's what I want to know.

So I find the toolbox, collect an assortment of screwdrivers, mole grips and adjustable spanners and start dismantling the boiler. At first it comes apart quite easily and I become quietly confident. But then I run out of things to unscrew, and am unable to undo the nuts holding on the long lengths of copper piping sticking out of the top.
So I try cutting them off with a hacksaw, but the blade is worn and very ineffective. Can't find a new blade.
Kicking it hard made me feel better, but the noise scared Moose and it didn't do much to help in any case.

By now it is getting dark, and there is no light in the room. Plenty of wires where the lights will one day be. But no actual lights.

Give the boiler one last kick and go and drink beer. Resolve to tackle it with renewed vigour in the morning.

I shall get that bloody thing out of here if I have to take an angle grinder to it!


  1. We were both left with these unfinished houses. I have ignored everything actually and refused to let anyone touch his tools or the house ... up till now.

    And my BIL will be doing stuff gradually. He told me to ring him when I know I'm ready (I cancelled on him 4 times at the end of last year :-)

    It's hard isn't it? Thinking about it alone, asking and accepting help, trying to do stuff and struggling, sometimes failing. Wishing he was here to do that stuff because he just did ... and yes, it was ok for him to do it alone, I was there to pour his drinks, feed him and just be there, run a bath, help him clean up (but not as often as I should have, but I was working .... don't get me started on that guilt trip), but we are alone. Yes, it's shit.

  2. ooh BTW that book I read (seven choices). Guess what it listed as one of the most recommended "alternative health" suggestions?

    Fresh flowers in your home

    and having a dog :-)

    Gardening - and suggestions for the following genres:

    taste: golden zucchini squash, red leaf lettuce, purple prodded beans

    smell: honeysuckle, jasmine, wisteria, lavender, rosemary, lemon vcerbean, oregano, sage, thyme, chamomile, creeping thyme, scented geraniums

    feel: soft fuzzy lamb's ear, woolly thyme,pussy willow, fluffy hare's tail grass, silky hibiscus, gardenia, most lilies, statice, globe amaranth, seed pods of honest or a money plant

    hear: whisper of willows and birch, ornamental grasses and bamboo

    connecting with nature (walking especially)




    to soothe, comfort and allow tears:

    Rachmaninoff - Vocalise (piano or orchestral)
    Symphony No.2 Third movement

    Massenet - Meditation from Thais

    Chopin - prelude no. 4 in E Minor

    to relieve sadness, relieve insomnia:

    Barber - Adagio for Strings

    to accompany us when alone, to think:

    Canteloube - songs of the Auvergne

    Brahms - violin concerto in D Major, second movement

    Rodrigo - concierto de Aranjuez for Guitar and orchestra, second movement

    Dvorak - serenade for strings - symphony no 9 in E minor, second movement

    Music to give us strength:

    Beethoven no 6 in F, Op 68 (pastoral)
    Tchaikovsky - string quartet no 1 in D, op 11, second movement

    to encourage change:

    Borodin - string quartet No 2 in D major, third movement

    DeliFus - song of summer

    music to support a change of direction and to encourage when there are problems to solve:

    Schubert - string quartet no 13 in A minor (Rosamunde) second movement

    Handel - concerto for two horns in B flat (esp the Lento)
    Concerto for Organ no 13 (The cuckoo and the nightingale)
    Bruch - violin concerto no 1 in G Minor, op 26

    music for the "new normal", enriched with memories, yet having actively and fully grieved, experience of grief, acceptance of new normal:

    Mascagni - intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana
    Rimsky-Korsakov - symphonic suite (Sheherazade)
    Rachmaninoff - piano concerto no 2
    Khatchaturian - Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia

    I've added them all in for you because I know you enjoy concerts and thought you could youtube them xxx

  3. Yep. It's shit!
    It also doesn't help when people say they will do the work, but then don't - I don't want to offend by getting someone else to do it, but how long do you wait?
    Anyway, this is my Year of Thinking Positively, so things will be done one way or another. And I am glad you are starting to think of getting things done at your house - and have someone to do it for you.

    And thank you for that list. Yep flowers and a dog. They work for me every time!
    A lot of the pieces you listed I know and love, but there are some there that are new to me. I shall do some investigamating this evening.

  4. ran out of things to unscrew.

    I did a massive haul out of the room that became - disgusting - in the months "after." It also housed the basket of all things death related, and I just couldn't handle it. Then, I did. Couple hours of full steam, then I too ran out of things to unscrew. Now is when I need him to come back and help figure it all out. Can't they just have a day pass or two? I mean, come on.

  5. J - I don't know if this would be a possibility in your area, but when I was getting my farm ready for sale, I needed to get some heavy stuff removed. One thing I didn't want anymore, but that was worth quite a bit was a large tractor-mounted cordwood saw (a huge circular saw). I had thought of putting it for sale, but instead, I put an ad on craig's list and described the saw. I said that I would give it and a 3-furrow plow away to a person who would remove a bunch of other stuff from my property. I got about 10 emails within a couple of hours. One of those who replied was a man who lived about a mile from me. He worked repairing tractors during the daytime, but was in the scrap metal biz on the side. He was like a human locust when it came to removing old metal stuff -- even things that required a lot of hassle. He was just great - neat and tidy about removing all the stuff. The best was that he saw an old canoe out back and asked if I was throwing it away. I said it wasn't much good, so it was going into the trash. He wanted it, so I gave it to him along with everything else. About a week later, I dropped by his place as I had found the oars that went with the canoe. He had already fixed it and it was up top on his truck. I spoke to his wife - a very nice young woman - and she said they had already been out paddling around in the nearby creek using boards as paddles. Anyhow, perhaps you can think of something you no longer want that would make a good thing to barter for some clean-up work or other tasks around your place. That sure worked out well in my case.

  6. @Megan: A day pass. Great idea. I'd be up for that. Where do you think I should send the forms?

    @Bev: I like that idea - you can have x, if you also remove y and z. Hmm. It might just work - there is certainly enough scrap metal around the place to make it worth someone's while.
    I have been getting rid of a lot of things on Freecycle already. Last week it was several boxes of old computer parts - I didn't imagine anyone would want them, but I had a good half a dozen replies to my ad.
    I just wish I had thought of doing it for the boiler before I started hacking it apart. It is still stuck in the house - I have got to the cast iron core and still can't move the wretched thing!

  7. I'm in the throes of renos. I had the shower redone on the house and now am expecting the renovators to arrive in Vancouver, any day, to work on the condo. I hate to think of the final bill and keep telling myself it is only money. Sigh. If the condo gets to looking too good I won't want to sell it. I do like it once I get here ... it's just that I don't get here very often. I just don't know what to do, where to live, what to be! I'm in one big limbo. But I still have time to work on it. One day at a time. Aaaarrrrgggghhh.

  8. @Cicero Sings: Ah yes, it's only money! I say that to myself a lot. And I guess it is an alternative to making a real decision. It is so hard, isn't it? All those expectations and plans for the future suddenly snatched away. I suppose those plans took time to devise, so it isn't so surprising that it is so difficult to decide on a new direction to take. But limbo is exactly the right word for it, and I am still waiting to get to the other side of it.
    As you say, one day at a time. *Sigh*