Wednesday, 5 January 2022

A year in review: Furniture and fittings, part five

This memorial contains almost a month’s worth of parts – though not all of ‘em are about my house! – and the post you’re reading is the twelfth in the series. 

On 24 February I was up at the framer’s studio again, this time with a friend and, this time, no heart murmurs. Ming needed to get some D-rings put in some old paintings she had and that she wanted to hang using her own rails, ones she’d commissioned Beaumont to put up in her apartment. While we were in Richmond she organised for some drawings she’d made to be framed and Amanda helped facilitate the process of choosing materials. 

The next morning I bought more hooks on eBay but with the hooks I still had in my possession Ming got me to change the hang on the first floor outside her bedroom. The final arrangement looked as you can see in the image below. I carried the Pixie O’Harris oil painting down from where it’d been hanging in the master bedroom and situated it above an O’Harris etching of a prince and a mermaid, placing alongside them a piece of embroidery which had come to me from mum, one that Amanda had recently framed. Long in the past this item’d been made with needle and thread by an unknown member of the family, the frame bought by me at an op shop for a few dollars. 

It sits under a photo of a house in Melbourne where members of the family lived. I don’t know whose house this was but mum and dad grew up in Melbourne and the photo most definitely shows a suburban scene – see the white picket fence – while to the left of the O’Harrises a counterpoint is offered by Craig Waddell’s gouache self-portrait, ‘One night in Paris’.

On 1 March I picked up the latest package of hooks from the post office in Broadway Shopping Centre. With these, and some drops I had kept aside from earlier hanging, I finished the wall inside the door to the master bedroom. Two days later Joe came over to inspect the kitchen mixer tap, which the day before had disintegrated. From the laundry I brought him a pair of pliers and he enterprisingly disassembled the end of the tap but found that, inside, plastic parts had broken. He said the man who lived in the next-door terrace had changed his tap and so might still have his original fitting, but Joe messaged me in the evening with bad news.

I go to bed early and by then I’d emailed a photo of the offending item to my plumbers – A-Style Plumbing – having phoned them while Joe was with me. They sent me a link to a supplier’s web page – a firm named Reece – and for a few minutes I browsed, making screenshots of models the appearance of which I liked. I emailed two JPGs to A-Style but a bit later unexpectedly saw an ad for a faucet in my Facebook feed. A-Style’s consultant said that choosing such a model would not allow them to include a warranty, so I capitulated though the Facebook maker’s product was cheaper than Reece’s, and asked her to go ahead and get their staff to choose a mixer tap for me conforming to my brief. On 4 March they emailed me asking for instructions – it seemed my reply had gotten lost – and I put in an order. The office manager said she’d ordered a Caroma Titan pin gooseneck sink mixer, adding, “once it comes in I will call you to arrange a time and day.” She didn’t keep her promise because when she called me on 11 March the tap hadn’t arrived, but we made a date for the plumber to visit on 22 March, a Monday.

Josh Kemp got back in touch with me on the final day of the month at around 10.20am and told me that his workshop was about to start working on my bookcase. We settled on the gauge of timber to use and I asked that the item be made with a plywood back as he’d not specified one prior to our phone conversation. On 9 April he called me again to say that the furniture had been completed and over the phone I made the payment for the balance outstanding. He said delivery would happen the following week.

I helped my housemate with packaging of furniture to go in her apartment, strapping cardboard to the roof of my car so I could transport it back to my garage for storage. On the road the thing ripped and fell over the windscreen because I hadn’t secured it properly, so on Airport Drive I pulled over in a breakdown bay and added another length of rope. Eventually I got home where I stowed my rope in the back of the car; I’d kept it there since I’d owned the vehicle but this was the first time to use it. The cardboard I put against the wall of the garage where, the day before, a coffee table I’d received as a wedding gift in 1991 had sat. A man had come to pick it up while Ming was at yoga, his partner having found my ad on Facebook Marketplace. I was paid the requested price (someone else had on a different day suggested about 50% less but I’d declined that offer) and the new owners were both glad to have completed the transaction and though the man’s car was very small the table fit inside with the rear seats down.

The plumber told me that the mixer tap that’d been installed originally in the kitchen had been modified, and that it might require me putting in a new sink. I messaged Joe to ask if he could fit a new tap that I would supply and he said his plumber’d that day be at the terraces, though this turned out to be premature. That evening he messaged me to say plumber Jack Denadija would come the next morning – the morning of 17 April – and I acknowledged the message. In the morning Jack came and took off the old tap. He said that the other plumber’s misgivings were unfounded and called the Reece outlet in Waterloo where he ordered a Nobili ‘Move’ pulldown mixer tap. I drove there to pick it up and the shop turned out to be in the same building I’d worked in 35 years earlier when I was employed by automation maker Honeywell, the building, in addition to Reece’s outlet, now housing an Aldi.

I brought the tap home and filed away the receipt – the fitting comes with a 15-year warranty – then did some errands and arrived home in the afternoon about 15 minutes before Jack turned up to install it. He’d been at another job during the day, inside someone’s laundry. At my place he spent about 20 minutes under the sink, going out to his ute a couple of times to get tools and an extension for the feeder hose, then tested the hot supply as well as the cold supply. The hot took a while to come in, but it was just a matter of time to see that it worked. 

I did the money transfer once Jack left. The tap he installed has a magnetic head and a control button (see below) that lets you divert water to different parts of the sink.

In the morning I did talk with my usual plumber and they seemed ok with me using Jack for the job but weren’t able to clarify why their guy’d judged a replacement tap to require modification or – more to the point, because it would’ve meant a further, and significant, outlay – replacing the entire sink. In the upshot they didn’t charge me for the tap they’d sourced for me and I now got to enjoy the opportunity to comfortably wash dishes. Because the new tap works as designed – its smooth action functions nicely – a trip out west I made on 19 April to pick up a doona cover found on Facebook Marketplace seemed relatively messy as roadworks hindered access in a quiet suburb close to Liverpool. Local closures – the council’s need to use heavy equipment and trucks forced me to park about 500m distant from the house where I was to go – made the final part of the voyage seem like a ‘Neighbours’ set: the little houses nestling close together on narrow streets, cars on front lawns, dogs pent up inside. The guy who greeted me at number 36 – I respectfully eyed a grey dog beside him – didn’t know the roadworks were still ongoing (“I thought they were over that”), and I passed him the money – carefully enclosed, as usual, in a white envelope – through a gap he made with the screen door. 

The tolls added almost $25 to the cost of the doona cover, which had been priced at $25, but in the afternoon on the way to pick up some tan flannelette sheets at a different address I faced no road charges, the place sitting in a quiet, tree-lined Woollahra street. This woman’s items cost a bit more at $50 and she said that because of menopause she hadn’t used them after her purchase, deciding they’d be too warm. In the evening I connected with another person in the eastern suburbs, this time with a view to picking up additional sheets for my three beds. Their address in Dover Heights would, I thought, mean a trip out nearer rush hour, but as it was clear the owner wouldn’t be home during the majority of daylight hours I made other arrangements.

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