Sunday, November 28, 2010


I'm amazed at this lurgy I have. It just keeps shapeshifting. I suspect I picked it up at the local hospital. At the moment I've got weird neck discomfort, a sore throat and the headaches persist. So, I've been flopping on the couch with lots of juice and cherries and cool jelly, and watching DVDs and playing here on the laptop. I'm trying not to be impatient; it's only been a week, and I have to let myself heal properly, otherwise it will only get worse.

I watched Melinda and Melinda by Woody Allen. The attraction to this particular WA movie is that Woody Allen isn't actually in it and Radha Mitchell is. Strangely, though, when I didn't look at the screen and just listened to the dialogue, everyone sounded like Woody Allen. Is it mandatory, when you work with a WA script, to mimic him? Or is it inescapable? As I listened, I had this vision of everyone being WA, a-la Being John Malkovic. {shiver}

OK. Here's some really exciting news. When we were planning what we were going to do in NZ, we'd decided not to go to the North Island because we had vague plans to be there next year for a wedding. Anyhoo, while we were travelling around the South Island, I asked (sideways, while driving, as you do with males) if we were still going to the wedding.

'Hmmm, I'm not sure,' said BB. 'I think I'd rather buy a new house.'

I nearly ran off the road.

Some context: I've spent the first 30 years of my life living nowhere longer than 4 years. I loved moving house; it gives me a chance to de-clutter and reinvent. When Bumblebee was born, Colonel Duck decided to put some of his hard-earned babyboomer bucks into an investment property and rent it to me.

And thus I started living at The Private Jetty. And I'm still here, 13 years later. When Best Beloved came on the scene, we bought the house from Colonel Duck. I've been trying to either move or knock the house down for a long time now, but BB is a very sensible fellow and insisted that we pay off lots of this one before we accrued any more debt. Good man.

You see, it's not really the 13 years that I dislike, it's the house itself. Actually, we've made the house quite nice, with a fab kitchen and various enhancements (detracted severely by our shoddy housecleaning and abysmal gardening skillz), but the floor plan is just mingy.

We have the classic Inner North Canberra Ex-Government House. It's like a small shoebox, divided into 3 undersized bedrooms, a teeny tiny bathroom and separate toilet, and what used to be a loungeroom, then combined kitchen/dining area. Nothing special. It's the same house-plan I lived in with my sweet ex-husband, many years ago, so I've not just lived in it once, but twice. And so that's longer than 13 years.

I'm not being ungrateful, I'm constantly aware that I'm freaking lucky to
[a] have a roof over my head, and
[b] be a homeowner (thanks, Colonel Duck)

but the spoilt white middle-class educated brat in me thinks about all the interesting, even grungy houses out there with personality and sags. I love a bit of personality. I'm not afraid of drafts and mould. I don't even want high-end renovations. I abhore spas and pools and black granite. I just dislike how mean-spirited these ex-govt shoeboxes are.

And I'm itching to declutter and reinvent.

So. You can imagine my joy when BB said this. I've been trying to persuade him that while we dislike the house, we love the position (walking distance to school and shops, walking distance to cool people we love), so why not knock down and rebuild?

BB's position is that we are not practical people. When we had the kitchen reno done six years ago for our wedding, the workers left us a couple of finishing-off jobs to do. They're still waiting to be done. Gah. True.

So. He wants to move, but into the same suburb. Who am I to complain? YAY!

On Saturday we scoured the papers for the first time, and I managed to drag myself up and out to see a couple of places (and then went back to bed).

The first place was delightful, belongs to an acquaintance, and we fell in love with it instantly. We're wise enough to know that we can't be mobilised in time, but it's motivated us to get an assessment of our own place ASAP. It's got so many things on our wishlist:

-- renovated, but not in a posh way, just smart, up-to-date and liveable
-- bigger than our house but not so much so that we'd be swimming in the place
-- a low-maintenance garden
-- a backyard studio which is about the minimum I'd need, and could be made bigger.

Sigh. I don't think we'd be able to land this one, and I envy the people who do.

The second one was hilarious. At the moment it's stuffed to the gills with overseas students, and it was quite obvious when we went through that the number of mattresses had been culled to two per bedroom with the rest of the living spaces gutted of furniture for the selling period. We liked the underpants draped over the curtain rail in one of the bedrooms. The entire backyard was cemented over, and there was a garage between the house and an external 3-room granny flat that would have made an amazing studio if we could have coped with the yard and the house. Also, an external kitchen wot for making jams & preserves! Too much renovation needed, though, way outside our capabilities, and I fear that the house will just go to someone else who will use it as a student farm.

The best thing about the house was that when I walked into the 'sunroom', there was a framed Monet print. I showed it to BB, and said 'Happy Anniversary'. We both laughed.

So here begins our house-hunting adventures.


birdmonkey said...

oh good - luck horrible canberra property market. I just love that I know exactly what you mean by the ex govt house. I have shared in 3 of them now, its interesting to see how owners have made small changes, but that they are all essentially exactly the same.

Mummy/Crit said...

pretty much what birdmonkey said... we're in the process of trying to think about what to do with ours, for the same reasons you outline - tiny bedrooms and tiny living spaces.

and sorry to hear about the lurgy, no fun at all. I hope it buggers off and leaves you to recover soon.

Rachel Cotterill said...

Good luck with the househunting! Always exciting (although I hope I never have to do it again... but that's just me). And I hope your mystery lurgy clears up soon.

Mindy said...

If you put out a call for help sprucing up let me know. If I'm free I'll come and help. Can you use the studio space briefly for decluttering the house?

JahTeh said...

Oh goody for you Duck, but really a studio should be at the top of the list.
I have wonderful dreams of an English conservatory at the front of my house which will have sun repelling blinds for summer but a tiny wood fire for winter.
I can see myself sitting there all warm and cosy with the rain streaming across the windows.
Of course, this ties in the dreaming of great Tattslotto wins.

Ampersand Duck said...

Wow, thanks Mindy, that's fantastic.

I'm hoping, since the move will be so local, that we can get a bridging loan and move everything out of the house (and on to the front lawn for a sale ;) ) and into the new place so that we don't have to sell and buy at the same time.

Our crap is so trashy that I think our place would have a much better chance of selling if people see it empty!

You're right, Jahteh, the studio is first priority for me. I need to get it sorted before my current studio lease runs out, because my sort of equipment can only be moved occasionally!

Yeah, BM & Crit, you feel my (stupidly middle-class) pain.

Rhubarb said...

ooh, how exciting! Not the lurgy, which clearly should have the decency to f*&^ off and leave you alone with your wellness, but the househunting. I have no idea what Canberra is like but from everyone else's comments it sounds um *fun*, so good luck with finding a fab studio with a reasonable house attached! Sara :)

Three Hundred Sixty Five said...

I just love the prospect of moving ~ I, too, love the idea of having a yard sale for the junk you don't want to move (although I HATE having yard sales, kind of ironic, isn't it?). My problem is I want to move to another state entirely (like Colorado - so green!, or Arizona - so brown!, but so beautiful, both of them). Unfortunately this is only an option in my dreams as we both have jobs that are keeping us tied down, don't want to look for those in this economic climate. Good luck, and don't rush things, as there is a house out there waiting for'll know it when you see it.

Bernice said...

Gee, definitely the second house - so all your mingey friends can bludge rooms whenever they want....

Ampersand Duck said...

Thanks Rachel, didn't mean to leave you out last time :)

Mmm, studio, Rhubarb, hopefully as nice as yours.

Well, 365, if I had my 'druthers, I'd be moving across the Ditch to NZ, but this'll do for now ;)

Yairs, Bernice, a spare room is on the wishlist. Don't worry.

Carol said...

This will be an exciting, frustrating time for you all so I hope you get well really quickly. You'll need all the energy you can muster but the end result will be great. That studio space will be something to aspire to. Best of luck.

Debbie said...

Even though the prospect of packing and moving leave me exhausted just thinking about it, there is nothing like the thrill of finding "that one". Good luck on your search. And yes, the purging of unused stuff is nice. Hard to believe what us humans can accumulate in just a matter of time.
Hope you feel better soon. Holidays are not the time to feel yucky.

Cat Drawings said...

Wow. Thirteen years. I remember moving you in there and putting a Buddha in every room. How's the Buddha count? Will they be up at the garage sale?