31 January 2017
This weekend, it became clear that I was born into a family of squirrels. But instead of collecting nuts, they fossick for ‘treasures’: old windows; brass door knobs; 1920s light switches that switch with the most satisfying *clunk*.
On Saturday, I ran down the drive to catch mama and papa as they drove down to Auckland: where our newly adopted orphan house lives (only for another few weeks!). The car was packed with tools. The trailer bumped along behind us.
We were going on a salvage mission.
We stopped off and bought five old bungalow doors in Mt Eden, and we debated whether they were quite tall enough to fill our doorframes.
Once we arrived at our Manukau orphan, I got out the measuring tape. They’ll fit… only just. We might have to add a little strip of wood to a couple of doors. Funny how salvaged doors and door frames never seem to match…
We spent the rest of the afternoon prying nails from railings and a roof and stacking the timber in the house. But my most significant effort was bricks. About 300 of them.
The old chimney in the house is coming out. Both for the move, and for good; we’re taking that whole wall out of the house. So, there were two small mountains of bricks, one under the house and one on the lawn.
Some of the mortar came off with a quick flick of my scraper-bearing hand, some had to be beaten off with a hammer and huge chisel.
I came out of that dusty endeavour looking like a scarecrow.
The next day we hauled that trailer load of bricks back up SH1. We stopped off to see my aunt and uncle and cousin.
Now, full disclosure; quirky doesn’t begin to describe some twigs (ok branches) of my family tree.
Squirrels, hoarders, collectors of fine items. I’m certain all these terms have been used before.
However, they do know time-weathered beauty when they see it. As we talked about the house, uncle said ‘I have a spare window under the house, do you want to take a look?’. And then cousin got out her drawers of doorknobs, and a tall slim window with waterglass – perfect for the new walk-in wardrobe we’re building.
I even acquired that monogrammed leather briefcase.
When we got home, mama papa and I corralled the younger brothers and sister to help us stack the hundred year old bricks by the cowshed.
They are going to make one lovely patio.