Most of our preparation work for putting the house on the market is now done, and I find myself in a bit of limbo. It is really hard to plan what happens next when you don’t *know* what happens next!
Contracts have been exchanged on the new house but we do not have a settlement or move in date yet.
Photos have been taken on the old house but we do not have any updates on that yet.
Dad’s car has been sold to a family friend but we’re not sure when they are collecting it yet.
I am a huge planner of things and when I can’t plan I find that frustrating. So yesterday with no plans to plan, I threw myself into mulching the garden beds of the old house. 8x 60kg bags of mulch later and it is looking great and I am feeling it today.
Today the sun is shining and I would like to prune my pittosporums but google tells me this is not an appropriate time to do it. Springtime is best AKA September. But not knowing what the plan is, who knows if I will have time for it in September?
So instead today I will send out emails to my past customers letting them know we’re about to do a swap while waiting for the next Better Call Saul episode to arrive.
If I can’t plan my next month, I can at least plan my today. ;)
Why, Taubmans? Why would you change the name of your most excellent exterior paint from Taubmans Endure to Taubmans Allweather?
When we built the chicken coop way back in 2011 we chose Taubmans Endure for the paint. It has been 11 years out in the rain and sun etc and most of the coop looks as good as it did when we first put it there.
So when we needed to paint the shed at Mum’s current house, we went to look for more of this paint and could only find interior Taubmans Endure paint. We were standing there at Bunnings obviously looking lost and the paint man informated us that they had changed the name of the paint. WHY when it is so incredibly well known and you’ve spent so many years promoting it?
I first heard about it via Selling Homes Australia and that is why we chose it – we were influenced. But seriously this paint is so incredible. We’ve only had to put one coat on the shed and it looks amazing!
Here you can see the front done but the side not yet done, to get an idea of the difference between pre-painted and the end result. We did end up doing a second coat on the top fascia (here you only see one coat) right next to the green tape as that does tend to get the most of the weather.
Dad would have SO enjoyed painting this with me. My Dad loved all things handyman for most of his life, and he could always convince me to go along for a trip to the hardware store. We could both very easily get lost in there for hours even though when I was growing up we did not have the enormous Bunnings stores, it was a local hardware store which was smaller and with less range.
He loved to paint. In fact there was a time he did it as a job, for a while. He also had all the accessories one would like if you were a painter including a pretty impressive roller extender pole and a paint stirrer that looked a bit like a potato masher.
We did not find these accessories today while cleaning out the shed – apparently he left the pole behind at work when he retired and he seemed to go on a spree of buying new roller extender poles – we found at least four but none of them were the “special” one.
It was also tradition in our family to have a set of “grotties” – clothes you have specifically put aside to use for jobs like painting etc so it did not matter if you got paint on them or got them dirty. My last grotties were thrown out in a rash decluttering event Marie Kondo style plus they were too big for me.
To my new grotties – a pair of Uniqlo extra warm leggings which have been worn so many times they developed a ladder in the rear thigh area, and a tie dye t-shirt which did not keep the colour as well as I would have liked – much respect and we thank you for your sacrifice.
Either hilariously or tragically, when Covid was a thing and Mum and Dad being older were only allowed to have AstraZeneca it took three months before they could get their second vaccine, and Bunnings was one of the few places that did not require you to be fully vaccinated to visit. So I always would offer to take them on an outing there. It is a good place to go for a walk, completely undercover, no chance of getting wet unless it is raining and you are in the garden section or they are watering..
This was towards the end of Dad’s time with us and he suddenly grew to hate Bunnings because it was the only place he could go – he would rant and rave about them anytime I mentioned visiting. This was a shame as it meant I didn’t have a good place to take them on an outing.
I wanted some specific plants and when we went to Bunnings they were in a container that told us where Bunnings had sourced them from – a local nursery. So once they were double vaccinated I suggested we could go and look there, maybe they would be a bit cheaper at the source. In late October I talked Dad into taking a ride out there and because it wasn’t Bunnings, he agreed, and we bought our last plants together.
I would hate to estimate how many plants we bought together in my lifetime. Garden centres were a favourite place to go. I remember some gorgeous Japanese Maples we bought together when I was a teenager. Looking at real estate photos of that house we used to live in, they appear to still be going strong.
As are the pittosporums we bought together in October. Above you see them in January, having just been repotted a second time, when to even look at them was hard for me but at the same time I loved the gorgeous shade they provided.
And here above you see them today, much taller and with a cooperative chicken. The chickens LOVE these plants, they use them as a special hiding place. In summer they could most often be found in the gap behind them, hanging out and waiting for any unsuspecting bugs which might wander by.
I now have two pairs of Uniqlo Ultra Warm and to be honest I do not want to leave the house without them at the moment. Extra warm are ok for inside the house, but having used ultra warm outside I really notice the difference between them. I would have ordered more ultra warm but they are sold out in my size NOES.
The shed is painted now and we could not be happier with it. It does cost as bit more to buy Taubmans Endure OR allweather or whatever they want to call it, but it is worth it. The chickens agree. :)
I just got a call from the AEC about working at the not-yet-called election. They are expecting it to be mid-May.
I had already been thinking about whether or not I wanted to work at this one. I mean with COVID being a thing, is this really something I want to do? At the last election I was second in charge of the booth and that brought with it a series of roles I had not done before, but I did enjoy almost every minute of it.
On the other hand, it has been many years since I have been able to spend a Federal election night at home with a great piece of cheesecake and Antony Green. I had this pleasure a few weeks ago at the South Australian election and at the end of it Antony said he had an announcement and scared the heck out of me. I thought he was about to retire NO NO NO this will never be allowed.
Sure the money would be nice. I could maybe treat myself with an overnight trip to Sydney or Canberra or something fun like that.
I’m still of two minds but I can take a little time to decide – it does not appear our PM is planning to call the election anytime soon.
For those of you in Australia thinking of giving election work a try, click here to register. It is 100% worth a go.
Andrew at High Riser wrote a post last Sunday which had something in it that I’ve been thinking about all week – thanks Andrew because it has been a very tough week here. We’re going through the process of a Dementia diagnosis for my Dad which is another story, but I was grateful to mentally write this post over and over again in my head over the past few days.
What sparked these mental gymnastics? This post and the following quote –
I ordered this superior one by click and collect. I was cross with Rebel Sport because I could not do so without giving my exact home address. Why, if I am collecting it?
Andrew @ High Riser
Let us start by looking at the information they want –
First of all, you could have entered in any information you liked and as long as you weren’t paying by credit card, you could have likely got away with it. Their system (and many systems out there) is designed to work with the Australia Post system which makes posting things a lot easier for the retailer AND Australia Post. You have to select an address and all the information including postcode is there ready and waiting. Like this –
Why is that so? Because apparently in this world there are some people who do not know their actual address, postcode, or state they live in.
OUR system does not do this same thing and let me tell you I really wish it did, because the amount of times I have to try and figure out what the postcode is for this persons order or what state they actually live in because they chose NSW but have a postcode that belongs in QLD, VIC, SA or otherwise.. and the amount of times I have to give up and actually call the customer? Too many times to count.
But the good news, Andrew, is this – as long as you’re not paying by credit card, you can probably pick any address you like. They might want to check your ID when you get there to click and collect – and that obviously could be a problem if you chose an address you don’t live at.
If you are paying by credit card, then the payment system might cross check the information you entered with the information your credit card company has on file for you, and if you’ve put in a wrong address the transaction might not go through.
Bear in mind none of these systems were built for click and collect at all – many retailers have had to add click and collect on the fly at the last minute, and thus it is kind of bolted onto their existing system which really was built to MAIL things to people.
And for mailing things to people, you want the address to be correct. This Auspost addressing system is pretty good at achieving that. There are some addresses not in their system and some tricksy ones here and there, but generally it works well.
Having said that, you could discover that the customer put in the wrong address, like the time a customer called me whose package had been delivered but not to them, and when I checked the address it had been sent to, they lived at number 10 but had put in number 100 as their address.
Package and customer were reunited when the customer went to number 100 and collected their package.
There’s no way I can check that information because I am NOT FREAKING PSYCHIC and I DO NOT KNOW where everyone lives in the world!
I have to rely on people putting in the right information and CHECKING IT IS RIGHT – there are many opportunities for them to do that, but do you think people actually do it? No. Nobody reads anything anymore, nobody checks anything.. and when it all goes wrong they would prefer to blame ME than themselves. ;)
Anyway having said all that, thanks again Andrew for keeping my mind occupied this week. It has been a doozy and today I am going to a meeting which I know isn’t going to go well because Dad will be told this diagnosis and I do not think he is going to take it very well. But it has to be done, so..
If you could keep a good thought – for me and my family, and that every customer will put in their right address and check it is right, at least for a little while as right now I don’t have the time or the patience to be sorting out everyones lack of skill in this area. ;)
Last week I told you about taking back the reins – also known as the f**k Gladys plan. Painting was due to begin Monday so on Sunday night I thought I better check where my packages of incoming stock were located.
Hilariously 4 of them were in Erskine Park, which meant they would turn up here within 48 hours. And of course I did not have my usual studio space to process them.
The plan was not to touch them until I got the studio back, but that plan never works out for me. Tuesday they arrived, Wednesday I began processing them, and then the 5th box showed up as well as a box of stock from Melbourne.
The studio has been painted however we were not 100% happy with the work. Normally I would ask the person doing the work to fix it, only that person managed to step in paint and walk it all over my pristine teal carpet which turned into two hours of scrubbing the carpet to fix it, so we decided it would be safer to do our own touchups. We did the walls yesterday morning and I have the skirting boards to do over this next week.
Once we completed our painting touchups, I turned my attention to the two remaining boxes which needed processing. Managed to finish them all that day.. so I’ve just got a lot of admin to do now adding them to the website. Over 100 new to us products.
For the first time in a long, long time, we took Sunday off together. We definitely need to do that more often. I’ll share some more pics of that in our next post but for now this is a waratah we found in our travels. :)
When we did the business tax in June, my accountant had said to me – well you did carpet in the studio, you did a new laptop and phone in 20/21 – I want you to start thinking about what you want to do in 21/22.
I said I already know – I would like to get the studio painted. But to do that I would need to close the studio and take everything out of the room. Maybe I could shut down over Christmas? But would it cost more to get a painter then? Would there even be anyone who would be willing to do it?
It has now been 4 weeks since we were locked down for 7 days, and there are no signs we will be let out anytime soon. Our area, the Shoalhaven LGA, was doing well. Then we got a couple of cases right before regional NSW was due to be let out of lockdown on the 10th of September.
Personal wise, we actually do extremely well during lockdowns. Home is our happy place and where we like to be. We’ve got everything we need here and whatever we don’t have we can easily get.
Business wise, we had switched to click and collect or post only before we went into the lockdown. We had planned to reopen the studio to workshops and customers on the 14th of September. I particularly miss my Thursday morning ladies. We laugh so much during those sessions!
Even if we had been let out of lockdown, snap lockdowns could happen at any time a regional area gets a case. That makes planning things incredibly hard, especially when you have to organise catering, milk for coffees, tidying up the room ready for people to come in, etc.
So this latest addition to lockdown was a bit of a kick to my mental health. On thinking about it, what was really bothering me the most was feeling like I had no control over the situation. I need to take back the reins.
Then we were told that businesses would be fined for serving people who are not vaccinated. How they plan to implement this, I have NO clue. Why I get to become the vaccination police I do not know. I don’t know how it is going to work. I actually don’t really want to know, either.
I’ve decided we are staying click and collect until the end of October regardless of what happens. That way I am not subject to the whims of our Government Overlords. If NSW overall does come out of lockdown mid-October there will be a couple of weeks for me to see what happens with the new system(s) in place, and decide whether or not I as a business owner even want to open myself up to dealing with it.
If I decide I do not want to deal with it, we will stay click and collect until the end of the year and then reassess the situation. This is my business, and I am in charge of what happens here.
In the meantime, everything has been emptied out of the studio. One carpet tile around the border of the room has been removed. Preparation for painting begins 9am tomorrow. I absolutely am not doing that myself. :) One of the Thursday ladies has a husband who paints. Colours have been chosen but I will keep that a surprise for a later post.
In this room on my personal computer, I am always just one click away from being able to log into Facebook. I never ever have done it on this computer, and I never, ever will.
This room is my private sanctuary away from work. As much as I hate it, my personal Facebook has become completely wrapped together with work. There is no way to separate the two from each other.
Thus the only place I will log into Facebook is on the work computer. And when I am on the work computer, I do not have time to be scrolling through my newsfeed looking for updates from friends and family, as few and far between as they would be.
If I get up from this chair now and go into the other room to look at my Facebook, what will I see?
I will see a lot of posts from local businesses. I will see a lot of posts involving Hawaii. I will see posts from zoos. I will see photos of landscapes and animals and flowers. I will sometimes see a post from family or friends.
If family or friends post something I don’t like, I will snooze them for 30 days. If when they are un-snoozed they post another thing I don’t like.. I will click “the button” to stop seeing posts from them in future.
I won’t see any conspiracy theories because every person/business I know who has ever posted one, I have clicked “the button” to stop seeing posts from them.
I won’t see any political posts because every person/business I know who has ever posted one, I have clicked “the button” to stop seeing posts from them.
My Question Is –
Why haven’t Facebook come up with a way to separate out business from personal? Probably because they don’t care or they don’t see how much of a problem it can be.
Until they fix this, I’ve had to take what I consider to be pretty extreme measures – separate laptops, separate phones, without Facebook on any of the personal devices – to separate work from personal.
I don’t know about you, but in these COVID times it is rare for us to venture outside the house at all. We stopped doing home deliveries for people in September of 2020. We have not done a trip up to Sydney or down the coast since then.
If we do go somewhere together it will usually be Aldi or Bunnings, but we usually do it after 6pm when most people have gone home. It is so rare for the two of us to go out together, most times when we come back I manage to set off the house alarm because I forget it is on.
We used to do the shopping together but for the last 6 months before the current outbreak only one of us would go. It would usually be me.
The furthest I can recall us going together in the past month was to the local rubbish dump to recycle cardboard.
On the majority of days, I never put on a pair of shoes at all. Because I struggle with cold feet in the house I wear socks with those sherpa lined slipper socks over the top. I have many many pairs of these JayJays tie dyed socks in a vast array of colours. I have been collecting them for months now. The guy in the shop knows me well enough by now to point out the new designs which have arrived when I walk in.
For some reason wearing socks makes people ask me if I want them to take their shoes off when they arrive here to shop. No, its ok! I just don’t wear shoes inside the house, it is fine for you to wear them.
I often wear a beanie inside the house during winter as well. I like to be warm and cosy but I don’t like to pay huge heating bills. So anything that I can do to keep myself warmer, I will do it.
Are you noticing a bit of a theme here? I’m obsessed with tie dye right now. I probably have 35 different tie dyed t-shirts in the cupboard and those are the only clothes in rotation presently.
I have not worn a pair of earrings, a bracelet, or rings since March 2020. That does make me a bit sad. I think I should make an effort to get back into wearing jewellery.
Overall, it is all casual wear all the time here. I can’t see it changing anytime soon, either.
In good news, finally yesterday I was on the website at the right moment to score a cancellation vaccination appointment. I had my first Pfizer vaccination today.
One of the problems with being accessible to other people is the constant interruptions they can provide. If I lived in a cave without a mobile phone or laptop and could focus in purely on tasks that need completing I can only imagine the huge levels of shiznit I could get done in a day.
But I do not live in a cave. I live in the world. And we all struggle with interruptions these days, don’t we? I hope so, I hope it is not just me. But for me interruptions cause a specific problem – the half done job.
I’ll give you a specific example so this makes better sense. Every piece of stock in our workplace has a home, and if we take the extra moment to put it back home when we’re done with it, we’ll know where it is the next time we need it.
Most of our stock has two parts – the canvas, and the kit. The kit contains vital sparkly parts without which the canvas cannot be completed. All our kits are put away in alphabetical order into storage compartments, like this –
One day a customer had asked me to show them the sparkly parts of a kit. It was the last one we had in stock. I went and grabbed it, showed it to them, and then they chose to buy something else. So the sparkly parts got put down somewhere. When someone else wanted to buy that kit, I couldn’t find the sparkly parts and for the life of me I could not remember what I had done with them.
Whenever I can’t find the sparkly parts, I search for a while hoping I will find it. After a bit I get frustrated and even though I know I am going to be mocked and snarked endlessly I ask The Other Half for help. And he always says “Half a job”. And the worst part is he is right.
Eventually we did find that missing part sitting on top of the mailing bench but it took far more time than it should have – and this was not the first time it had happened.
I don’t always have time in the moment to consider the future time when I will be looking for this thing. I need to deal with the customer who is here on the spot and I don’t want to stop and think about putting things back in their home in that exact moment. But I also needed a new plan. And thus, the no half measures box was born. Can you see it in the photo above?
In Breaking Bad, Mike tells a story of a time he took a half measure.
Mike tells Walt a story from his time as a police officer, when he confronted a chronic wife abuser . Mike intervened, and almost killed the wife-beater, but gave in when the abuser promised to change his ways. Shortly thereafter the man beat his wife to death. Mike’s mistake was to take a half measure when he should have taken a full one. “No more half measures, Walter,” he says.
Out of all the characters in Breaking Bad, Mike is one of my favourites. And now Mike sits on the mailing bench reminding me never to do half a job – this box is where things go in the moment when I don’t have the time to put them back where they belong – and every so often when I have the time I can go through it and put things back where they live.
I sit here and type on my new lappertopper which does not have Facebook. It does not have email. There is nothing business related on this computer. It purely has a web browser, discord for chatting with friends and for gaming, and a few of the games I like to play.
Next to me is my new phone which has a new personal phone number. Only three people in the world have that phone number – my parents and The Other Half. Again there is no Facebook, no email, nothing business related.
The old laptop is now the work laptop. It is locked in the work safe with the work phone and the work tablet. This is the path forward. This is the way to reclaim my time, but this did not happen overnight.
This is a process I began back in April when I made a decision to purchase a new phone as my current phone was starting to have less battery life. At that time, I decided to get a new sim card for the new phone and use the old phone – which was still functional – for the business.
I got the new phone but I had to wait for a case, the screen protector and other accessories. The new phone stayed in the box. I had no idea what was coming, but I personally hate change so I kinda sorta put it off for a bit. One day it was time. The only thing I installed on the new phone was discord and a game I like to play called Egg, Inc.
When 6pm arrived, I would shut the work phone in the safe. I’d still be accessible to people via the laptop in the evenings until I shut it down and went to bed – but when I went to bed I took only the personal phone. When I woke up in the morning I was not greeted by work messages and work Facebook and work emails. It was the best feeling!
I enjoyed this feeling of freedom. Of being able to *choose* my work start time. When I turned on the laptop I could choose not to open the email and not to open Facebook – if I wanted. I could have breakfast and enjoy my morning coffee in peace without trying to answer the myriad of messages and emails people sent me overnight.
You know most people get in the car and go to work and start at a certain time. I used to do that exact same thing. Why did I think now that I wasn’t entitled to my own personal morning routine, just because I have my own business? Why did I think I wasn’t entitled to evenings? To my own personal space? Even shower time was me mentally putting the trains on the tracks ready for a day of work.
So it was very clear to me what the next step of this process was – the business needed a laptop. Work needed to be done purely in the studio. I needed to commute there from the recliner after finishing my coffee and have a set start time – and a set finish time.
A new laptop was purchased and this time, I did not waste any time setting it up. I could see freedom just on the horizon there, it felt like I could reach out and touch it. That first night when I locked it in the safe, and went to my laptop which now had nothing work related on it – no Facebook, no emails, no spreadsheets, just Discord, games, my personal browser.. that was an awesome day. And a bit of a scary day at the same time.
To begin with, I really just needed some time off. I needed to zone out, to watch television, to read books, to just *be* – oftentimes the first thing I would do when I closed the studio would be to sit and stare into space while my mind mentally parked all the trains of the day.
I’d been working all the hours of the all days since July 2019. 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Yes, even Christmas Day. If someone messaged me, I usually replied right back. You don’t realise how that constant interruption steers your trains off their tracks until it stops. Constantly being switched on and in business mode, you can do that for a certain amount of time but eventually you do start to burn out.
The Other Half and I played actual games together in the evenings. I watched entire episodes of television without a single message from anyone causing me to pause the show and go to check if something was in stock or track their package to see where it was or answer a question I’d already answered many many times that same day.
I started getting back into cooking dinners – for the most part since Covid began we’ve been supporting a local business by purchasing meals they would cook for us. We do still buy dinners from them but we’re starting to make our own meals a few nights a week.
It is unfortunate that the way Facebook is, you cannot have a personal Facebook and a business Facebook. I never get to read my feed anymore because it is on the work computer or phone and during those hours I am working. It is impossible to use my personal Facebook without seeing work messages, so I choose not to use it at all in my personal time and space.
I have always been reading your blogs but I rarely leave comments anymore. It is not you, it is me. I always want to comment, I often open up the form, but most of the time I find it hard to write the comment. I think there is still an element of brain burnout.
Similarly I do not know how many times I wanted to write a post here but would end up staring at a blank page. It is time now, though. I need to start doing the things I used to enjoy so much before this “hobby” business took over.