Southerly by David Haywood

67

Deconstruction and Construction

The preparations for the relocation of our house from the Residential Red Zone to its new location in Dunsandel have been going unexpectedly well (hopefully this statement isn't tempting fate too much). The first items on my list have been several demolitions that will allow the relocation company to access the buildings that we want to move.

The first rule of 'before and after' photographs is, of course, to take the 'before' photograph. Alas I became so excited at liberating the heartwood rimu and assorted useful Edwardian fittings from beneath the earthquake wreckage of our woodshed that I inadvertently broke this fundamental rule. So here is a photograph of our woodshed 'after':

Above: Where the woodshed was.

After the woodshed was the spa pool. Our house came with a spa pool. Do you understand the concept of spa pooling? I don't. You get in. You are instantly bored. There is nothing -- I repeat nothing -- to do. Then you get out and have a proper bath to wash off the chlorine. Then you think to yourself: "Why would anyone bother."

Life with a spa pool consists of constantly feeding the damn thing chemicals, and feeling depressed about what it's doing to your electricity bill. So it was with great pleasure that I knocked its block off (or, at least, finished knocking off its block -- the earthquake having done most of the work for me).

Above: Spa pool (before).

Above: Spa pool (after).

Then there was the garaport. I've always doubted the engineering of our garaport, and had planned to knock it down and rebuild it even before the earthquake. But blow me down if it hasn't been the only structure on our section to survive unscathed.

Above: The sole structure (on our property) to survive 10,000 earthquakes without harm.

The saintly Ian Dalziel from Apple Pie Design volunteered to help me with the garaport. Saint Dalziel has always struck me as a very mild-mannered sort of chap. "May I borrow your sledgehammer, please," he asked. Shortly afterwards the garaport looked like this.

Above: What earthquakes fail to destroy, the mighty hammer of Dalziel puts asunder.

Saint Dalziel also volunteered to help with the disinterring of the (very expensive) heat transfer pipe that runs between the boiler in our shed and the house. This pipe was the crowning glory of my thermodynamic work on the house, and I nearly killed myself digging a bloody big trench to put it in.

"Bet you never thought you'd be digging up this bastard again," said Saint Dalziel cheerfully. In remarkably short time we had dug it up again -- as immortalized in this photograph, which contains a rare image of the notoriously camera-shy Dalziel.

Above: Trench and Dalziel (with saintly digging implements).

With most of the preliminary demolition out of the way, I have turned myself to lifting paving stones. I bet you're thinking: "What? He's taking the paving stones?" Yes, I am. Why should Gerry Bloody Brownlee get my paving stones? They're perfectly good, and they'll be handy for the driveway in Dunsandel.

Here is the result of an evening of lifting paving stones:

Above: How many paving stones can you see?

It turns out that I can lift 220 paving stones in a leisurely couple of hours work. I counted up the remaining paving. The total came to 5,907. Or as I pronounced it in my head: "Fucking five thousand nine hundred and seven fucking paving stones?" So I may be lifting paving stones for a while yet.

My son, Bob, has been a somewhat disconcerted by all the demolition work. "Why can't we build something for a change?" he asked. His nomination was a case for our dulcimer.

Oh, our family can't get enough of the dulcimer. As we like to say, it's like bagpipes only more dulcimerish, i.e. without bag or pipes. My daughter Polly likes it so much that she stands upon it to gain better traction for strumming. A dulcimer can only stand so much of this kind of love  -- so, indeed, a protective case was a most sensible suggestion.

I fancied a quick-to-build case out of plywood. Bob had other ideas. He wanted tongue-and-groove panelling on the sides; he wanted fancy stainless steel fittings; he wanted access to my power tools.

The result was quite the surprise to me. Bob did all the drilling and sawing (under supervision), as well as tortuously inserting the screws for the fittings. I don't want to suggest that he's the best four-year-old instrument case designer/builder in the world -- but I bet he'd make, say, the top 5,907. It was so good that I wished I'd let him use some of the heart rimu instead of crappy pine.

Above: Bob's dulcimer case. Quote: "I'll be in the photo, Daddy, but I won't smile." (Background shows Bob's new 'packing boxes and lego' decoration scheme.)

Above: Strumming the dulcimer (producing a mercifully muffled sound).

And, of course, Bob was right: construction is much more fun than deconstruction.

     
David Haywood is the author of the children's book 'The Hidden Talent of Albert Otter'.

(Click here to find out more)

His previous books 'My First Stabbing' and 'The New Zealand Reserve Bank Annual 2010' are available here.

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