Sunday, December 02, 2012

And Then There Was Light

Aurora Expanse hat-in-progress
This is what you get for wanting brightness.  There's nothing like SNOW for reflecting the light!

I reached the most pertinent chapter of Names for the Sea, entitled "Knitting and Shame".  It turns out that the author loves crochet.  And in her final month in Iceland she discovered knitting.  Don't you just want to rewind time and introduce her to the wonders of wool a year earlier?

She returns to Iceland as a tourist and everything looks much much better.  And I wonder if that's the way it is.  You don't see what's good about a place when you are absorbed in the day to day.  She can finally enjoy the coffee houses she couldn't afford to frequent when she lived there.
There is a lesson for me here.  Carpe diem springs to mind.

I WILL go to Iceland one day!  Especially now I know you can get there from Glasgow (thanks to those who pointed this out!)

My typo?  I saw it, and decided to leave it be ;)

Meantime...I'm having another hissy fit at the state of my house.
This is what my house is made of: sand and boulders!
We had the builders in over the past two weeks.  They were re-pointing the two gable walls to try to stop the water gushing down the inside of the chimneys when it rains.  This is the third set of builders to have a go at the job.
The first lot (2005) took off the harling and did a half-hearted job, resulting in a patchwork mixture of lime mortar and cement.  If you have ever watched Grand Designs, you will know this doesn't work:  it drives all the water through the limed sections and into the house.  That was the year of the buckets and mop and the end of my bedroom carpet.
The second builder (2007) recommended picking it all out and starting again but FL refused on the grounds of expense, so instead they tried spraying the walls with a waterproofing solution.  Which worked unless the rain was coming from the East... or the West.
Work in progress, West-facing wall

So here we are again, several £k lighter, with freshly repointed walls.  100% cement.  I would have preferred lime, but apparently you require a conservation-quality builder for that, not a guy you met in Wetherspoons.  Watch this space. 

While I understand that other people have greater problems than mine (proper deep floods spring to mind), I have lived with 2 weeks of cement puddles on the bathroom floor and sand in the bathtub (the nearest source of water) and muddy footprints from one end of the house to the other...  alongside the usual dog hair and autumnal leaves.  And we ran out of milk every day due to the endless mugs of tea. And there was no hot water because the builders drained the tank before I got home.
And then the boiler broke.
Now we have no hot water at all unless we boil a kettle, but luckily the shower heats its own water.  The electrician is coming back next week "sometime".  He thinks that mice have chewed through the cable (again).
But all this rubbish has been getting me down.  Which explains my knitting productivity rate going through the roof.
I just want to be clean and tidy! So yesterday I scrubbed the floor with kettles-full of water.  Hoorah!

And then it snowed.  Shrugs.

And now it is December.

Almost time for lists and planning for 2013.

I have been keeping an account of all my purchases in 2012 and the results are very interesting.  I will be doing a separate post on that nearer the end of the year, when I am sure I have captured a full 12 months.
But this much is clear:
  • If I gave up shop-bought coffee completely, the savings would cover my annual expenditure on fabric.
  •  If I took a packed lunch every day, it would pay for fabric, yarn and patterns.
  •  Imagine how well-off I would be if I gave up shop-bought coffee AND sandwiches!
And something else?  For someone who is supposed to have given up buying clothes, my "shop-bought" expenditure still matched my spending on sewing patterns (and that included a couple of splurges on ebay).
The apple tree
Serious thought required.  What are my priorities?


Sarah Rooftops said...

Oh, what a nightmare! It took three goes to get our old chimney to stop leaking into the bedroom wall and a long, long, long time after that for me to stop feeling anxious every time it rained. I'm sure buildings weren't this leaky when I just rented them...

Myrna said...

I've thought about the coffee and the lunches and what that money could transfer to and have come to the conclusion that saving my sanity is worth coffee, lunches, yarn, fabric, and even the odd store bought garment - as in preventing rather than attemting to recover from some kind of breakdown because life isn't always pretty.

Lynne said...

Oh, I don't envy your building work at all! Any building mess is a complete nightmare. I really hope it works out this time. Your snow photos are gorgeous though!

Twelfthknit said...

Old buildings can be a trial (British Understatement). I have to admit that sitting in my modern Swiss house watching the snow fall dos make me appreciate new design. It's such a pita that there are so many dodgy builders around. I agree with Myrna- sometimes shore-bought is A Good Thing. Maybe even buying a coffee on the day of the week which sucks the most might be good...maybe Monday if the new week is looming large, or Friday if you are knackered and need a to get through the last afternoon.

beate said...

o dear! with our nineteen century railroad house i can understand you! this summer we build a little roof on our chimney to prevent the house from rain. there were stains down to the cellar....
i will never forget standing on the rooftop and handling large steelsheets.
an now we have snow too and i love it - yesterday i bought new trekking ski. secondhand natürlich :-)
coffeshopcoffee gets cheaper when you cant drink milk, like me - esspresso for 1-1,50€ sometimes is my little event.

didyoumakethat said...

I feel your pain, too. When I moved into my house the rain came down the bathroom wall in a sheet of water. Money spent and money spent and money spent - when I was already brassic from the expenses of moving into a new home. My first few years here were stressful and it's a stress that will never completely leave my relationship with this house. If I had a spare £20k I could do a lot more ... but I don't. Re sandwiches and coffee, I agree with one of your other readers - they make me happy, keep me sane. Sod it!

Lucy said...

I've been conveniently ignoring the pointing issues own our new house (that we moved into two weeks ago!)

I really need to stop ignoring the pointing issues on our new house, but I don't know where to start in looking for a decent builder...

Roisin Muldoon said...

I agree with Myrna and Karen - the odd coffee and sandwich and store-bought garment is important for sanity. But maybe cutting back and putting the money in a 'fabric splurge' pot is a good compromise.

Oh and I don't normally leave comments all 'look at my blog' but I did a gif for you! xxx

acharmofmagpies said...

Your building issues sound horrendous! I hope this guy has finally cracked it for you. I'll cross my fingers for you.

agirlinwinter said...

I'm sorry about your house problems :-( It's such a pain having any building work done, particularly on an older property. I worked out that I'm spending £34 a month on cafe bought coffee at work and it's too much! I've got a lovely little Thermos flask OH bought me and I'm taking milk into work and making my own tea and coffee every day. I allow myself a bought coffee on a Friday, as a treat. I make my own lunch so that's not a problem. Just think of all the money I will be savivng (to spend on yarn and fabric).

Lucy said...

Roisin, I've (sort of) been doing this recently in an attempt to cut down upon the amount of crap that I eat.

A day without chocolate = 50p. A day without crisps = 50p. Reward = yarn splurge!

Judith said...

Don't you just hate what life throws at us sometimes! Good luck with the new builder, I think they all sit at the local pub having a good laugh at us all at the end of the day.
As for stopping the small pleasures that we do for ourselves during the day - you have worked hard for your money so spend it as you wish, and enjoy it!!!

Marie said...

I'm not surprised that home stuff has been getting you down...just reading it made me anxious and I'm not living through it! I sincerely hope this latest fix works on the chimney and that all is restored to good working order soon...especially now it's snowing...yikes! I've been a bit pants at commenting lately, but your knitting is blowing me away woman! When I grow up I want to knit as well and as fast as you ;o)

jessica said...

I also second Roisin's suggestions. We can cut back and be mindful, but only so far :-). At some point, the quest for sanity kicks in, too! Good luck with the building situation Roo!

Mary in TN said...

Understand the home repair issues completely! We had similar flooding problems in our basement when contractors did a poor job replacing a rotted out exterior door. Broken waterseals are a are improperly installed new doors. The second contractor finally fixed the work of the first. Hope the boiler and chimney are fixed and soon! I did a similar comparison several years ago. For me too, it pointed out that the coffee shop lattes are nice, but yarn and fabric are nicer! Can't wait to see your post on the list and 2013.