Monday, January 31, 2011

.... And We Have A Plumber

We have a plumber! ...thanks to the guys who left a comment on my 'A Plumber Please' post yesterday.

6 tradies from the Central Coast are up here volunteering for the week. Their plumber is installing a new hot water system for Ken on Wednesday and thanks to your generous contributions, we can pay for parts. Labour is free. Thank you Luke and your team. I will publish details about their respective businesses on the Central Coast when I meet them on Wednesday.

Ken will need more plumbing help when he eventually gets a kitchen... after he gets some walls. If there is anyone out there in bloggy blog land who is a plumber happy to be on standby over the next few weeks/months, please contact me at: a-m@capecoddesigns.com.au

Total for Ken = $2020. You rock my friends, you rock.

Saw Ken today. He's smiling and is so grateful. He got all flustered there for a moment trying to work out how he was going to reply to you all to thank you, especially when I told him that some of you are in a different hemisphere. It was all too overwhelming.  He has no idea what a blog is and had me retrieve messages for him from his mobile phone as technology is all a bit too hard... and rightly so. I function here on this blog on a need to know basis only. 10/10 Ken for braving a mobile phone these days.

So I promised Ken that I would say a heartfelt thanks to you all. He kept muttering that there were people worse off than him. C'mon Ken, you have no walls.

So thank you from Ken :)
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Sorry, But While We're On The Subject Of Lights.....

Sample of coveted light has arrived: HERE.

I will resume normal? programming once this issue has been dealt with :)
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Shining A Light


With the utter devastation that has hit my beautiful home town of Brisbane, I just want to help everyone... but I can't...... but by 'shining a light' on 2 people, we have hopefully have made their journeys a little easier at this time. Yay.

Please scroll down a few posts to find donate buttons to help these 2 wonderful people, Ken and James. I will continue to pass on your gifts as they come through and I thank you from the bottom of my heart, for your contributions.

And thank you for trusting me to pass these gifts on. The full amount that is donated is being passed on... every single cent (I am donating the PayPal fee portion on every contribution... as well as rounding up wherever I can... any excuse!.... no government administrative fees here... don't get me started.... Cyclone Larry? 2006? still $700 million worth of public donations sitting in government coffers... don't start A-M, don't start.. breathe now).

Latest total for Ken: $1590. Unbelievable. I could have added an appropriate punctuating swear word in between the 'un' and 'believable'..... but I refrained. I spent most of yesterday with tears in my eyes as your donations and emails came in. I received some some heartwrenching life stories from you, those of you who have lost everything, house fires, floods, paying it forward..... those who have lost children and wish to make a difference in their name, those of you who don't have much but have dug deep for another who is suffering. Oh, you have touched my heart like you wouldn't believe. Thank you. I am seeing Ken mid week. He has no idea (as he has no power, no computer and has no idea what a blog is and what it can do). I will make sure he is sitting down when I surprise him. Oh, still no plumber though... keep your eyes peeled if you come across one. Thanks heaps.

Meanwhile, Simone, over at Beach Vintage, has been madly doing her bit to help out those in need, with 'The Beach Vintage Volunteer Flood Relief' project she has set up through her blog (I really don't know how she does it, running her businesses and being a Mum as well as heading out on the road with her car stocked to the hilt with flood relief). Simone has a donate button at the top left of her blog, through which you can support the provision of beautiful meals, sandwiches, drinks and even school lunches for those in need... and there are many.

Beach Vintage Lamps via my iPhone - but of course.
Bit dark sorry - left the flash off so you could see what a beautiful job Simone did of the shades
 - she made them you know! The bases are teal. Am I embracing colour or what! Who am I?
That hulking great light behind is some sort of modern vertical light thingy - intensely ugly - goes well with the aircon vent and intercom all on the same wall. Why put a long, skinny, vertical light in the middle of the wall as a feature? I ask you.


Anyway, interior design sidetrack aside.... thank you everyone and stay tuned!
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Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Plumber Please


This is Ken...my sister in law's father.

Ken is 73. He lost everything in the flood, as you can see, including his car. I hugged him lots yesterday. His townhouse is in Rocklea, one of the worst affected areas of Brisbane. As you can see the flood is gone but the devastation continues... silently. There another 27 000 homes just like this.

I am so desperate to help Ken. I had to hold back the tears listening to his positivity yesterday. I offered him the world, the contents of my storage shed, unused furniture, bedding, you name it.... even my superior cleaning skills. He is a proud man and would not take anything but my phone number and the gift I mention later in this post.

He did ask if I could find him a plumber though. He has a mate who is doing a kitchen for him at no cost. When the kitchen goes in, if there is a plumber out there in bloggy blog land who can find his way to Rocklea to offer his services and parts for free, please email me at:
a-m@thehousethatambuilt.com

I don't know the time line. Ken was a bit sketchy... you know how mates work... Ken needs to action some walls first.

You can see the water line on the second floor - nothing was spared. 
The water made it up to the top of the kitchen splashback upstairs.
You can see the water marks on Ken's car too. It's a total goner.

Ken's living room, stairwell and bedroom. 
Even though the sodden walls, ceiling and floors have been ripped out, there is still mud everywhere you look.

Ken still does not have power or hot water. 

Salvaged treasures :(

Carpet removed from stairs - still mud.

A little treasure high and dry.

While we were '5 star flood evacuees', in our city hotel, biting our nails over losing the lizards, we met some lovely ladies, Eleanor and Kerrie, also staying at the hotel. Rather than give their flood donation to the Premier's Flood Appeal (which looks like it will be going to hardly anyone now that the Premier has announced the ridiculously low income cut off that no-one was aware of when she started the fund - don't get me started), they generously gave it to me. As our home was not decimated, I asked Eleanor and Kerrie if I could pass their generous donation on to someone who had lost everything.

Ken has gratefully received Eleanor and Kerrie's donation.

So I drove away and Ken went back to his mattress on the floor, in his house with no walls. My heart ached for him. If I still lived in 'The House', I would have set up a little self contained section for him on the lowest floor. I dreamt about it last night. I had it all worked out in my dreams.

A plumber? A plumber please. a-m@thehousethatambuilt.com. That's all Ken asked from me.
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PS I have received many emails, since I posted this post early this morning, requesting a donate button for Ken. Your donation will be referenced 'Ken' so I know who to give it to. Here it is:



UPDATE : 2/2/11
THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROUS DONATIONS.
THEY HAVE BEEN GRATEFULLY RECEIVED BY KEN.
HE NOW HAS A NEW FUNCTIONING HOT WATER SYSTEM, POWER AND SOME GYPROCK WALLS ON THE TOP FLOOR ARE GOING IN TODAY.
NEXT CEILINGS AND A KITCHEN.
THE ELECTRICIAN PUT IN A POWER POINT UPSTAIRS SO HE COULD WATCH TELLY.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Oh yes....

... it's all happening here at 'The House'..... James has purchased his washing machine and has done the first load! He emailed me to let me know... isn't he wonderful. Total as of 2pm today - $930. My dear readers - you rock!

Happy Weekend! I'm sure I'll have something to say tomorrow, so see you then :)
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

James Update


Handed over another little envelope to James this morning. He is "astounded" by your generosity and cannot thank you enough. He said he never harps on about his financial situation to others but he said that our generosity has helped him through a particularly difficult time. He most likely will have to move on to another site to sell "The Big Issue" as the ferries will remain closed for a long time. All his customers have gone. 

Our West End ferry terminal actually doesn't exist. It was torn off and is either at the bottom of the Brisbane river or in Moreton Bay by now.

No more ferry.

If you still wish to help James, I will continue to pass on your gifts as they come in. I explained the situation to my boys in the car on the way to school, putting life into perspective for them. Big one said to me, "Mum, I feel so good about helping James, it makes me want to cry with happiness". Me too son, me too. A good day. Everyone is happy.
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Thursday Musings

Image Courtesy House Beautiful

Seriously overdue for a pretty house/design/something not flood related picture here. 
Love those chairs. Next time. 

James update: $582! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am off to deliver $217 to him this morning. Thought I'd take my boys. They are dying to meet him.

House update: Washing done, floors vacuumed, smiling happy children. TV doesn't work, no signal, did some TV aerial thingys go under water perhaps? must ask Warren. Luma and Inger's TV doesn't work either. Listen to me wondering about TV when people have a shell left that used to be their house. Perspective. I could have lasted longer with the cold showers, I really could. It was so hot last night I even turned my hot shower to cold at the end of it last night, to cool off! This is the tropics and Brisbane is notoriously hot and humid in summer. Small blessings that we sort of missed summer with all the rain. Temperatures have been almost chilly.... up until now. Unfortunate that the lovely cool rain turned not so lovely, transformed into a flood and decimated this beautiful town though.

Children update: They are loving school. Already. Love their teachers. Love their subjects. So grateful that they have another year at their beautiful school. My life is complete.

Me update: Walking in the mornings, except this morning. Want to sit with an electrically boiled coffee and contemplate the universe. Taking life slowly, living in the moment. I am learning to 'trust life'.

Today is a good day.
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A-Mi

I was never a Dietitian. I was never once 52kg.

See this?...bathed in electric light?.. this is my breakfast. A coffee, made with kettle boiled water (full on 'electrically boiled'!) and a chocolate brownie lovingly made by my friend Anne-Marie (A-Mi).

Yes we have power and yes I finally met my namesake in real life yesterday. It was emotional.

Firstly, my friend A-Mi (i as she spells her name with an 'ie' and not 'ee' like me)...  so totally more wonderful in real life. A loyal blog commenter.....rain, hail, shine, flood. An imaginary bloggy friend materialises to become a kindred spirit. We spent the WHOLE day in the coffee club ... never once looked at our watches... except when I realised that I had children that needed picking up from school. My friend Luma even joined us for a time and then wafted out.

A-Mi came bearing 'home camping' gifts which just made my heart sing.

A-Mi's gifts and her arm and pretty dress.

Champagne, chocolate brownies in pretty pink tins, lollies for the boys including marshmallows (cannot home camp without marshmallows), beautiful tea-towels for washing up camp stuff, a beautiful candle, tea and tea bag holder (blue and white, my favourite... she knows) ... and to top it all off she also had a little something for James (which I will hand over to him tomorrow... he is taking Australia Day off!).

So 'The Plurals' as we are calling ourselves, the two Anne-Maries/ees, got off to a roaring start. She's renovating a house you know..... starting next week. 'The House That A-Mi Renovated'. She'll never get rid of me.

I arrived home to find an electric light on. I almost died. I actioned every electrical implement immediately, including the washing machine (that I had previously tried to start on electricity through an illegal cord, hooked up to a workman's generator that Shane (complex friend) set up for me... shhh! It 'died', as I think all us 'illegals' were trying to do our washing at the same time... so my washing sat for days in water, inaccessible due to the fact that you need electricity to open the door of the machine).

As soon as all my 'electricals' were humming away... everything stopped. Wandering the corridors, I soon found out that the system had overloaded. Yep, that would have been me. I acted as surprised as everyone else. We went out for tea. My esky ice had fully melted and I needed some sustenance to summon up the courage for yet another cold shower.

Home again, lights were on. I ran the hot water..... hot!! I got in that shower like there was no tomorrow.... and around here... there most likely will be... no tomorrow (I still don't trust the electricity supply quite yet and am NOT filling my fridge!).

Talk about living in the moment. Eating my brownie, sipping hot coffee, washing machine humming, boys playing Nintendo, computer charging, everything bathed in artificial light. Never again will I take electricity for granted. Total electrical junkie today.

Today is a good day.

A-Me xx

Mid morning P.S. The donations are still coming in for James. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you still wish to donate, please scroll down to the post on James that has the donate button. He will be super smiling on Thursday when I see him next. He is having dinner tonight with the lady who was offering hot showers and power (from signs on her front fence) in a previous post. Such a loving community :)

Oh and A-Mi has just popped in with the recipe for the plate sized chocolate indulgence I had for breakfast this morning: HERE
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Today


Look how beautiful the river was this morning when I set out on my walk....


.. and look how happy James was when I handed him $465 this morning... thanks to you beautiful readers. He is going to buy a washing machine. My heart sings at the thought of what we have done. My mind is spinning... how can I do this...... like.....always? My generous readers, carry his smile in your heart today and it will be a good day.

 Before - sans washing machine.

After - avec washing machine.
Always smiling.
James, you give so much more back, remember that.


...and look how resourceful my little tacker is..... in identifying what he is eating. Paper plates of course.... too much washing up in the dark otherwise.

It is a good day.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

James


 This is James.

James used to sell 'The Big Issue' at the City Cat terminal in West End. The ferry terminal was completely destroyed in the flood (along with all the other terminals - $100 million and 18 months to repair). So James is without an income, as no-one is frequenting the ferry terminal any more. I was so delighted to run into James this morning on my morning walk. He was at the bus stop near the ferry terminal. He said he had to come back, even though his old stomping ground is gone. He said he was drawn back as he loves the place and the people.

West End ferry terminal - was completely submerged in the flood.



So even though James's customers are gone, he is staying, close by. You can find him at the bus stop in Orleigh St near the trashed ferry terminal. He will be there early every day. If you are passing by, please say hi and if you can help him out, that would make my heart sing.. and I'm sure his!


I have set up a facility for those of you who are 'remote' and would like to help James..... see the donate button below (so proud that I have mastered this technical feat!). I have linked it to my Cape Cod PayPal account but it is referenced as 'James'.....I will ensure James receives every single cent that comes his way... and I might even post a photo of me handing it all over to James... big promise... but so worth it. I am prepared to 'out' myself for this cause.




UPDATE : 2/2/11
THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROUS DONATIONS.
THEY HAVE BEEN GRATEFULLY RECEIVED BY JAMES.
JAMES IS STILL SELLING THE BIG ISSUE AT THE WEST END FERRY BUS STOP IN ORLEIGH ST WEST END ON TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY MORNINGS (EARLY) BUT HAS MOVED ON TO ANOTHER SITE (TBA) OTHER DAYS UNTIL THE FERRIES ARE UP AND RUNNING AGAIN.

Please CLICK HERE to see a video on James on 'You Tube'..... he is the most beautiful person.


Happy Monday!
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Home Camping


Ok, so I am going to try to keep the boys with me this week, at the 'ghost town which is our apartment complex'. No electricity?... can't be that hard. We will rise to the challenge. The boys want to go home and I just can't bear to not be with them for their first week of school.

We are off to "Boating, Camping, Fishing" this morning to get an esky, some lanterns (to do homework by) and other camping paraphernalia required for our 'home camping' adventure. The boys reckon this is going to be fun.. and I'm sure that I will meet some interesting folk at the local laundromat when the need arises to action some washing. Main concern is getting lunches organised. My almost teenager eats like a horse hence takes an esky to school.. icepacks for esky?... hmmm, we'll work something out. We have gas so I can cook meals and boil water.

So today is 'Operation Home Camp'.... getting set up for our (please be no more than a week or two) camping at home. Wish us luck. I am sure there will be plenty of blog fodder over the next few days. Anyway, you will find me at 'The Coffee Club, West End', each morning after school drop off... sucking their power for my computer and phone, doing a blog post or two. I'll be the one with the 'non blow dried/GHD'ed hair' looking like she's just had a very cold shower! Actually I might just wear a cap for the next few weeks.
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P.S. or I might pay 'Twitter: @JanetELeach' a call!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Slightly Flood Related


Unbelievable. Brings tears to ones eyes. And she's in my suburb. Janet = angel.
Twitter: @JanetELeach
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Totally Non Flood

Martha of course

I totally love this!... and it is so simple.... my next home, I can see it now. B. K. A. N. B.
It wouldn't work as well if we didn't include Nigel/la and Brian/na.
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Musings On Floods and Vanities

Well our little holiday is truly cleansing....long walks on the beach, boogie boarding, late starts, reading and sleeping. We are staying longer than planned... right up until school starts...... no where else to go..... may as well start school with a warm shower!

Hmmm, where to live next week? I can live by candlelight but I can't bear the thought of the boys having cold showers. I might farm them out to various friends while I stay at 'the ghost town which is our apartment complex'. Our dear friends are coming back from their 'evacuee centre' to the complex this weekend... we might be able to come up with a creative way of powering up a hot water system. Can you plug them into generators? I know nothing.


Speaking of plumbing, and totally off the topic of 'the devastation which is our home town', what do you honestly think of these vanities? Nowhere to put soap.... water drips onto the floor when you turn off the tap... and how do you fetch your jewellery out of the trap when you accidentally wash it down the sink? Just asking. I do sort of like the funky look of them though. In the right environment. They're different.

I hear there is a king tide in town at 10.30am this morning. I signed up for the Brisbane City Council Early Warning Alert Service HERE. Alerts go to your mobile and email inbox. Thanks for putting me onto it Jane (Jane has her finger on the pulse of everything in town... when in doubt ask Jane... I do). Never again do I want to receive a 'hurry, they're evacuating West End phone call' by my panicked mother, whilst miles away from home!

When I do get home, I am going to action a 'leaving my apartment well prepared for a flood kit'. My important paperwork is in my intray on the floor of my wardrobe (we moved house in a hurry at the end of December)... wouldn't have stood a chance if the river did what it was predicted to do (and I didn't think to grab it when we left... too busy actioning 'Bun, Bun' and 'Ted Ted' and musical instruments).

I have also made friends with Natasha on the third floor. My chair is heading there next time. Scary thing is, the word is there could be a 'next time'... we have only just started our wet season... sodden earth, full dams, I shudder to think.

Happy Friday my friends.
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Time For Reflection...

Duncan St, West End, January 2011


Promise Yourself


To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature you meet.

To give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud word, but in great deeds.

To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

The Optimist Creed - Christian Larson, 1912

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Monday's Nook

Our street yesterday - hmmm, mesothelioma anyone?

Oh I jest! Remember when I used to do a Monday Nook? Seems like forever ago. All the prettiness. It will come back. "Trust in life", chants my dear friend to me almost every day. I have some lovely friends here in the complex who are helping me look after my soul until I can do it on my own.

Sat in the Coffee Club yesterday morning, pretending to be there for their coffee but really 'sucking them dry of power' to charge my computer and phone. The boys are still at Gran's, fellowshipping with their cousins, looking for stick insects and generally revelling in 'boy's own' adventures...... so I am drinking in the quiet and solitude in my little apartment. Drive down the main street of West End and you would be forgiven if you muttered "what flood"? It's bustling, alive and vibrant once again. Only if you peek down the side streets, do you get a glimpse of the horror that we have lived through the past week.

Our complex is still without power and is a complete mess. They are dragging sodden cars out of the underground carpark and peoples treasures from their storage cages. Drenched photos can been seen in the festering piles of rubbish that line the street. My street is closed due to it's implosion in on itself (the whole thing literally crumbled and sank) so I have to park a fair way away when I visit my humble little home. I am so grateful to still have my treasured possessions. I came home last night after an afternoon of cleaning and dusted my beautiful (dry) piano. The number of pianos I have seen in the rubbish piles that line the streets - heartbreaking.

Despite the hundreds of offers I have had for accommodation (for which I thank you from the bottom of my heart) I am thinking of taking the boys away to the beach for a few days. They really have had no holiday this time around. My heart has been in such a bad place as of late and I have not been able to fully be there for them. The 'Mother guilt' is creeping in. School starts in a week. I want them to be happy and refreshed. A bit of sand between the toes and a few joyous rides on the boogie boards will lift their spirits I am sure. I have this overwhelming desire to stare out to sea and read my books :)

My boys and their cousin 'Rosie', who visited us in our hotel when we were 'evacuees'. 
Yep my boys really did wear the same clothes all week.

Off to collect my boys. I have been excitedly informed that we have some more creepy crawlies to add to our menagerie. I can't wait to meet them!
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PS Just found out that we might not have power for 3 weeks. Apparently the switchboard, 'doovalacky/thingamygig' is on "backorder" and on a slow boat from china. Handy. I have noticed that there are a few large apartment complexes in the dark, at this end of West End. We are probably all fighting for the the same piece of equipment needed to get back on our feet. I tell you, cold showers take a bit of getting used to...thank goodness it is summer and hot. At least we have water now, although I am too chicken to drink it. Me and my fear of E.Coli, we go way back. Cold showers are a small price to pay for the time by myself I have had here over the past few days. It's been so good. I am quite nice company.

Oh, and isn't this great: Click HERE

Monday, January 17, 2011

Camping Out

Camping out in my apartment with no power and water. Needed somewhere close to town to stay last night and thought, "hmm what about home!". Gas is still working so I am boiling some water for a coffee this morning. The place is a ghost town. It's quite spooky. When I came in last night, all you could see was the occasional candle burning in a window and you could hear the sound of laughter and conversation as people learn that there is is life without TV. I sat and read my 'making your soul happy' books by candlelight. I felt like I was out in the bush.. it was so quiet. I was delighted that Warren had turned his generator off in our courtyard. My next door neighbour was home. For the first time in my life, I didn't mind the smell of his cigarette smoke. Made me feel less lonely!

Was thinking last night about where my ol' blog is heading this year. Pretty houses and decorating just don't take my fancy quite yet. I am healing my heart, rebuilding my soul. "The Soul That A-M Built"?
I am just going to take it as it comes. It is so good to be back.
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Saturday, January 15, 2011

As The News Coverage Wanes...

...life goes on.

West End Today


Montague Road


Montague Road - business after business destroyed


Home Sweet Home - my street: Forbes St, West End


Forbes St


Cleaning up Orleigh Park - even the broken play equipment and park benches were lovingly scrubbed


All that silt and sewerage was gone by 4pm this afternoon - legends - it's a big park!


Our corner store. Cnr Hoogley and Ryan St. The water was up to the billy tea sign and the Ryan St sign on the street corner. This was the store I pointed out in the 'kayaking west end' video I posted about the other day. 


Hoogley St





This is my neighbour Karen's place. She lives across the road from me. Her home is 100 years old. It survived the 1974 flood in which the water was 30cm higher than it was this time around. The water made it to the main floor, up over the verandah and right through her house. Her attitude brought me to tears. "Oh well, I needed to have a good sort through and clean out anyway".


This is smiling positive (albeit blurry) Karen with what she salvaged. The piano was saved :)
She had just ripped up the sodden floating timber floors that had all warped and buckled. 
Still smiling.


This was all I had to clean up at my place. A putrid fridge that spat out defrosted raspberries.
I got down on my knees, not only to clean it all up....... but to give thanks.


Checked in on Brian and Nigel (sorry Brianna and Nigella) while I was there.
Nigel/Nigella was 'chillin' ...or severely high on the petrol fumes coming from Warren's generator set up in our courtyard. The generator is running the pump that is sucking out all the s**t in the underground carpark. We will have no power for 2 weeks. 


Our underground carpark. They've got most of the water out. Bulldozers are now removing everyone's putrid, sodden belongings from their storage cages. I almost died when I saw that there were still cars parked down there. You can see the water went way over the light. My apartment is about 30cm above that light.


So many businesses ruined.


Gut wrenchingly heartbreaking.


This is Nathan, standing in front of what was his wholesale fashion business. 
He has that much to move and throw out again tomorrow. 
We'll be there from 11am onwards tomorrow if you want to come down and help.
244 Montague Rd, West End.
BYO shovel.


Queensland Flood Victim Support - Click HERE
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