Monday, January 20, 2014

Earthly pleasure ring out from the rigors of this road (Villagers)

Domestic bliss seems to have been a recurring theme during these holidays.

I've been reading my usual eclectic selection and domestic bliss (or lack of it) has definitely featured in them.

Graham Nash - Wild Tales (Mr 'two cats in the yard' himself). I enjoyed it by and large - he's honest and it presented a more balanced portrait of his relationships with his parents and musical buddies Allan Clarke, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, and Neil Young. It ultimately changed my impression of him. I haven't liked his smug, earnest 'two cats' persona previously but I found myself liking him more while reading his autobiography.

Melina Marchetta - Looking For Alibrandi. We have a set of this at school so I read it to see if I could use it or not with junior classes. The answer was 'sure' as it deals well with family dynamics in particular and a mother/daughter relationship in particular.

Todd Strasser (under the pen name Morton Rhue) - The Wave. I was deciding whether to teach this at Year 11 again so I reread it quickly. Didn't seem as substantial as the last I read it about 20 years ago so I may pass on this one.

Markus Zusak - The Book Thief. Again we have a class set and I was looking for a good text to use for Year 13s - this one had me from page 1 - a narration by Death tends to get my attention! It's a brilliantly written story of young Liesel as she tries to survive relocation to a new family in a German suburb during World War 2. There is a kind of domestic bliss amid the death and terror that is inspirational and very emotional. I'll definitely use it at school if I don't use One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.

Lloyd Jones - Mr Pip. Yep - you've got the idea now - another case of a class set that I may use - I'm currently reading this and so far it's a bit like The Book Thief with a 13 year old protagonist and dislocated family bliss in a foreign land - Bougainville this time..

SWMBO and I love watching Grand Designs on the Living channel (creates a nice balance from Death - The Book Thief's narrator). 

The hooks for us being the human drama involved in seeing a design vision through to its conclusion, the decisions people make in their designs and presenter Kevin McCloud who is acerbic at times and critical when he needs to be but he's also quick to spot moments of success, joy, and inspiration.

As I mentioned in an earlier post I had four construction targets for these holidays - tractor shed, chook house, bird aviary and double carport. Only two have been ticked off the list so far.

I blame Grand Designs.

The bird aviary started out as a simple rectangular design but SWMBO wanted something more stylish. Hmmm, I thought (to my...sorry PJ) - that's going to cause some headaches.

The budget was set at $350. I needed to buy some hardware (nails, latches, hinges etc), some construction board to provide shelter and the bird netting. Other than that I could use existing wood from around Red Phoenix Farm and from Sallie's place and I found a large piece of flat tin in our Three Bay Barn that I could use for the roof. 

In true Grand Design spirit the plans and vision were pretty much in our heads.

SWMBO's design brief for the aviary (after we'd scouted out suitable locations and settled on the area where the clothes line was located) were modest and not challenging at all. They included the need to fit in with existing plants and vegetable gardens; be as transparent as possible so that we could see the herb garden and hedges behind it; and not be boringly functional. Oh - and we also had to incorporate a lovely little birdbath sculpture thing that SWMBO got for a much reduced price from Mitre 10 in Waipukurau.

The other complicating factor was that we needed two distinct sections to the aviary. Lovebirds are my favourite, Canaries are SWMBO's and the two species don't coexist - indeed Lovebirds are extremely intolerant creatures and they kill anything not Lovebirdy.

We love a challenge! Eventually we came up with a double triangular type of arrangement with indoor and outdoor living for the birds.  

We went to work.

Know one thing: I'm a grumpy bum when I'm in building mode. I think a lot, process things in my head and don't explain myself clearly to co workers - i.e. SWMBO, because I know what I'm thinking. This can create a bit of tension - especially around lunch time - Purdys are bears when we're hungry!! It's the way we roll.

First up was relocating the clothes line behind the house. Easy huh? The clothes line was, of course, cemented into a block of concrete roughly the size of Texas. I toiled in the blazing sun for a morning and managed to extract it using a steel bar and move the concrete slab with my sack barrow to the new site. 

Phase two was digging a new hole for the concrete slab. Easy huh? The ground I was attempting to dig into, after the false security of three inches of topsoil, was as hard as, well, concrete really. The sun continued to boil and I continued to deplete whatever liquid makes up my internal combustion but eventually the job was done.

Next - the construction of the aviary.

Generally SWMBO and I are on the same page and you'll be relieved to know that we are not only still happily married but we also ended up with a cool double sided aviary!!

Phase three - we needed some perches and places for the birds to explore so I cut down a large but dying tree in one of the paddocks. It had plenty of gnarly branches to chop up and I needed an excuse to use my new chainsaw.

Phase four was buying some birds and so...introducing Lovebirds Squawk (Jade's suggestion for the female), Dave Dee and the Canaries Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich.

I love it when a plan comes together. 

Love and peace - Wozza

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