IF I LIVED IN BALDIVIS, I’D BE HOME NOW

This is it. Everything is packed. Everything is put away. Everything’s been disconnected.  Tomorrow the truck comes, and the Batthaim is no more.

We’ve been here over five and a half years. It’s the longest I’ve been in a single house since I shared a two bedroom duplex with my Mum and younger brother when I was a teenager, 23 years ago.

My bonus son, Aiden, reached adulthood and embarked on his own life from here. Miss 13 graduated Primary School here. Master 10 was home schooled here. We’ve had grandchildren, boarded adult family members and childrens’ friends, struggled with major illness. I sold my first novel here, and my second and third. Luscious became an educator, and fought tooth and nail to advance her tertiary education. Our kids learned to swim in this house, to ride bikes, to read and write. We’ve lived here, when all is said and done, really lived, that sort of life you promise yourself when you move to a seaside town from the city.

It’s a white elephant of a house. The gardens are too big and the weeds have never been under control. The reticulation is a bitch to operate. There’s not a right angle in the fucking place. You can’t reach the ceiling in the foyer to clean it. The taps screech and scream and not one of the washers we’ve fitted over the years has solved it. The patio was designed by a five year old with crayon poisoning, so that the rain pours down onto the seating area instead of away from it. We don’t get terrestrial TV, The mortgage is too high and we’ve struggled to afford it and maintain any sort of standard of living for the kids. I’ve grown to dislike it terribly. I’ll be glad to see the back of it.

And yet, it’s been our home. Really our home. It’s been a significant part of our lives. No matter where I’ve been since, the house I lived in with my parents between the ages of 8 and 13, before it all went to shit and they divorced, is the one I think of as my childhood home, the place where my memories really began. This will be that house for my children, I think: when they look back on their childhoods, this will be the place where their memories really begin. And now we’re leaving it behind.

It’s for a better deal, there’s no two ways about it– the place we’re moving to is closer to my work, close to Miss 13’s secondary college, closer to all the places we choose to spend our time when we’re out and about, deep in the heart of Rockingham– my old town, my home town. It’s more compact, less sprawling and unwieldy. It’s more manageable, more affordable, newer, better built. The gardens are smaller. We’ll have more money, more time, more leisure. There’s no down side to this move.

But still, this is our home. The Batthaim. And now we’re leaving it.

We’re going to need a new name.

MY GRANDFATHER’S AXE

This is Spike.

When all’s said and done, he’s just about my oldest friend. I’ve known people longer (waves: Hi, Seanie!), but Spike’s been my constant companion for verging on 22 years. Other friends have moved away, or moved on, but Spike’s been by my side, and in my garden, for literally half my life.
I bought him when I was living in a shared house, just after I’d finished Uni, in early 1993, when I was 22 years old. He sat in a pot, and every time I moved digs, he came with me. Then, when I bought my first house, I planted him properly.
When I moved from that house, I took a cutting, Spike’s a succulent, so basically, he’s as pod person as a plant can get. Hack off a limb, and you grow a whole new Spike: all you need is potting mix and water. He’s my kind of plant: inde-fucking-structible. Spike grew anew. When I moved again, I took another cutting. And again. This time, he’s been in the ground almost 6 years, and he’s doing bloody well for himself.
When Aiden moved out of his shared house recently, and into a new place with his fiance, I took a cutting, and gave it to him so he could have his own Spike. And I took the opportunity to do the same for Blakey and Cassie, so now all three of my bonus kids have Spikes of their own. And now I’m on the move again. 
So, 11 houses later, (including, at one stage, returning to an old house after 6 months, so he was simultaneously in garden and pot!), here’s Spike once more, pod-personned up and ready to go:
The Spike abides.

BUT I’VE GOT A HELL OF AN EXCUSE

So here we are, then. The 9th of November. By nano stats, that means I should have completed 15 000 of my unholy mess novel as of tonight. That means that, as of tonight, I’m only 7.56 days behind where I’m supposed to be!

But, like Jesus said when his Mum wanted to know who pinched all the tuna sandwiches, I have a hell of an excuse. Let’s break it down, shall we?

Wednesday 29 October: Agree with Luscious Lyn that the Batthaim has become too big, expensive, difficult to maintain and draining. Decide to sell the place.
Thursday: Appoint real estate agent we’ve been sniffing around for a while. Receive list of final renovations necessary to bring house up to saleable standard.
Saturday 1 November: Received square metre of soil. Spend half a day carting the bastarding thing out to the back yard to fill the giant empty garden bed that’s been sat there empty for two years. Plant colourful plants. Trim giant sprawling half-dead passionfruit plant. Patch cracks in upstairs room ceiling and kids bathroom. Do some actual writing, by virtue of mad panic and previously undiscovered wizard powers.
Sunday: More patching, sanding, and carting heavy bloody things all over the place. Pack family up and sod off for an hour while real estate agent brings people through.
Monday: Write the 2 thousandth and change words on the novel. Do shoulder stretches. Use bendy shoulder muscles to help pat myself on back.
Tuesday: Accompany Luscious to hospital. Be supportive husband while she undergoes horrendously invasive surgery.
Wednesday: Continue husband support role while trying to persuade increasingly grumpy wife that resting in bed does not involve any form of cleaning up or housework. More patching. More fucking sanding. More fucking painting.
Wednesday evening: Pack sore and sorry wife into car and spend what’s supposed to be an hour at cafe while real estate agent brings people around the house even though he’s been bloody told specifically not to do this today because Luscious is supposed to be resting and not gallivanting around the bloody neighbourhood.
Slightly later Wednesday evening: Real estate agent sells Batthaim. Becomes best friend for life.
Thursday: Packing. Lots and lots of packing.
Friday: Meet with mortgage broker just to make sure we can afford to actually move and won’t end up living in a shopping trolley and smelling like cat pee.
Yesterday: Fucking patch. Fucking sand. Fucking paint. Get in car and drive round and round and round suburb of choice looking at interminable series of ugly, run down and general piece of shit house I wouldn’t use for a crack house, never mind a place of residence.
Saturday, 3pm: Find the perfect house. Cry tears of relief. Wipe eyes, Put in an offer.
Rest of yesterday: drive from Baldivis to Southern Bloody River because the idiot not-local real estate agent didn’t actually have the forms to sign an offer. Sit around for the better part of two hours while idiot not-local real estate faffs about like an idiot, including actually having to read the forms to himself to make sure he’s got the right damn forms…… out of there by 6pm, nobody dies, it’s a close-run thing.
Late last night: idiot real estate agent rings. Lyn. I think he worked out who best to speak to. Our offer is accepted.
All today, starting at 6.20am and finishing at gone 5pm when I stopped caring about life: MORE FUCKING SANDING AND PAINTING. Empty, box, clean and deconstruct entire shed. Entire. Damn. Shed.

Yeah, so, all of which is an overly dramatic way of saying, hey, what a week: the Luscious one has had surgery, we’ve sold our house and have bought a new one, and for the rest of the year we’ll be packing and organising finances and– all being as per instructions– we’ll be moving house the day before Christmas.

Turns out, Real Life ™ trumps writing. Who knew?

HEY, LET’S NOT WAIT UNTIL A WEDDING OR A FUNERAL NEXT TIME, OKAY?

So the secret to blogging success, apparently, is to do it regularly. Pick a day of the week, or two or more, and no matter what, make an entry on that day. You build up trust within your readership, and regular updates lead to repeat readership.

Heh.

Lot of wevver we’ve been ‘avin, innit? 🙂

So it’s been more than a month, and there’s a very good reason for that– I keep my day job out of this blog, and my day job has been mad. Apart from being the lead officer on our Australia Day Celebrations, a task that ate my January, I’m also involved in the preparation for two major art exhibitions which will eat, respectively, my May and July. It’s a fantastic job, but sometimes it takes over.

Still, there’s been a bit of action going on at the Battheim: for starters, we’ve decided to sell up and move closer to the kids’ new school. Those who’ve been to our current house will attest to the fact that it’s freaking huge: 2 stories, and enough room to fit 7 or 8 residents, which was fine when we had 7 or 8 residents to fit. But we’re due to drop from 6 to 4 in the coming year, as our eldest and his best mate depart our rooms for digs of their own, and this place is just too damn big– and too damn expensive– to suit a family of 4. It’s time to rationalise for life in a smaller, cheaper house.

Simplify, simplify, simplify.

So it’s reno time, and cleanup time, and sitting down in the evening to watch Get It Sold and Selling Houses Australia and the like time, and losing my weekends to the garden time. Not to mention realising just how much shit my house is filled with time.

So our weekends are booked for the foreseeable future, it seems. Every time I move house I swear it’s the last time, that I only have one more move left in me, that I want to stop and put down roots and actually see the gardens I plant grow to maturity, and give my children a sense of security as they grow through childhood. But it’s okay, because I reckon I have one more move left in me……

SHIT NECK HIGH AND RISING

Hello my absent friends. I have returned.

It’s been a strenuous and stressful time since we last spoke. Moving an entire household of 5 people a hundred-plus kilometres with only the assistance of a teensy tiny wife, my father, and a 3 tonne truck was, to say the least, physically draining.

My Dad, it should be noted, is not only a man of rare brilliance when it comes to packing a truck, there is every possibility that underneath his skin lies the plutonium heart of a Terminator. Seriously, this man could cut his head off, and would simply gaffer tape it back on, finish the job, and go for a beer. To paraphrase Larry Miller, if I go to the bank and the post office in the same day, I need a lie down. Without him, we may still be dragging the last of the pot plants up the driveway.

But we’re in, and the last panic over the seller’s paperwork is slowly dying down (Oh, the happiness that comes from dealing with an NESB seller who communicates through her 13 year old son and didn’t think to apply for probate when her husband died intestate. Oh, how we’ve laughed…..). And just when we thought we might get to put our feet up and crack a coldie: bad family news struck last night, rather horrible news in fact. Private news that I’m not going to discuss here (although everyone who lives under our roof is okay, for those who might be worried). Lyn and I are heartbroken, and as much as we’re there for the person to whom the tragedy has befallen, there is no good that can come from it, and it’s cast a pall over our first days in this house.

So I’m back, blogosphere, and I’m sure the whole world has fallen into disrepair while I’ve been gone– don’t worry, I’ll send a man around. As to the rest, give us a short while.

NB: If you’re a friend, and unaware of the news, don’t be alarmed. If you’re worried, just email me, and we’ll chat.

INCOMMUNICADO or HURRY THE FUCK UP AND BE FRIDAY ALREADY!

So it’s been a while, and sorry to say, my little darlings, but it’ll be a little while yet before I’m fully back to my blogging best. We’re on the move, y’see: upping sticks and moving the entire Battourage a hundred plus kilometres southwards where we shall set up shop by the sea and spend the rest of our days tormenting stray dolphins and eating crab and fetta pies.

Upshot is, the phone line goes bye byes here some time tomorrow night and won’t be up at the new place until early next week. Until then, no internets for busy Batts.

In the meantime, feel free to have yourselves an open thread in the comments section, and a picture I took at the state aquarium some time ago:

WHY THE PAUSE, LEE?

So, a lack of content here on the Battersblog recently, as well as a general lack of activity in any way, shape or form on the being-a-writer front.

Of course, I have a fair excuse.

What with getting everything ready for the rounds of appointments and open homes; as well as beautifying gardens; performing all those maintenance jobs that I would have got around to eventually, probably, sooner or later while we were living here but now have to be done NOW, dammit; and starting my AHWA mentorship with Mark and Grant, this year’s sacrificial victims; and listening to my kids pretend to be Hercules and Xena after watching that putrid cartoon movie of those two putrid televisual debacles thanks to the Cartoon Network; and running down to Mandurah every weekend to look at houses and put offers in and sit on the balcony at Cicirello’s and eat fish and chips while we watch boats come in and out of the harbour; and learn to play Texas Hold-em so we know what the hell’s going on when we watch the Professional Poker Tour late on a Saturday night; and occasionally sleep; and balance papers with the bank as we go back and forth organising finance and altering loan details and negotiating interest rates and all the crap you have to do with banks even though you’ve been a customer for something like twenty five years and you think they’d know you by now……… well, it’s been a bit hectic lately.

Still, we’ll undoubtedly get the offer we want this afternoon, and have the finance sorted out by the middle of the week, and then all we’ll have to do is pack up and move to our beautiful new beachside suburb and spend the rest of our lives lying on beach blankets being fed grapes by oil-smeared underwear models, right?