Thursday, November 8th

We were in the UK visiting my family for a while and returned to a hive of activity in Strangely Park.

Oleg and his adopted brother Borat have been busy with the hair dryers blowing the discarded vegetation into little hills of leafiness. For some reason they then like to put them into rubbish bins and wait for the trash man to take them away to leaf heaven. Why they don’t burn them is a mystery, perhaps a bylaw against it?

There are some improvement works being done. Break out the champagne! Our basement garage has been the focus of slow but determined attention since just before we left. They rang the domofon and said they were coming the next day to install some insulation so we should remove our cars. The next day, nothing happened. The following day they took the whole day to dig a shallow 3m long trench in the floor and leave the garage unusable with a trail of rubble. No insulation workers in sight. The next day they removed the rubble, put a pipe in the trench and concreted it over, still unusable. Two days for a few hours work, doing the wrong work on the wrong day, normal hereabouts but I’m not complaining. Work is work however it arrives.

This is part of our new “flood defence system” and will help water collecting at the bottom of the parking ramp to dissipate. The drainage channels by the garage doors have no outlet. One of those things that was overlooked in the original construction. Now they are connected to the drainage channels in the floor of the garage itself, which do have an outlet although are in a poor state of repair, the gratings at least. So, either this will work a treat or the outlets will be blocked and overflow the now greater amount of water into our garage space. We shall see when the snow comes, and melts. To be honest we have not noticed a flooding problem either inside or outside the garage so not exactly priority #1 anyway.

While we were away the promised insulation workers finally arrived and did something. Looks like we are getting a whole new insulated ceiling to the garage with large slabs of foam being attached and then plastered and painted over. Garage still unusable, we are promised until Saturday. That means with luck we will be able to park their mid next week. Would be nice if they painted the whole garage and replaced those grubby drain channels but lets not run before we can walk.

Florence Nightingale has been organizing this. She’s an angel for sure. The only paid member of the residents committee, AKA The Invisibles, and the only one we have ever seen doing anything. $1,000 a month is not enough but is relatively well paid by local standards, a point that warranted a 20 minute argument between The Chosen Ones and The Evil Empire at the last AGM.

All this garage turmoil has forced Hemingway to move the classic MG into a street parking space. Not a happy bunny. To guard against theft it is cunningly disguised under a classic MG shaped rain-cover and he was out this morning fussing over it with belts and straps.

Adding awe to shock more workers just climbed up a ladder and onto our balcony as I sit here. Their job is to clear all the gutters, even the impossible to get to ones like the small roof over my head, over our dining space. I think one of them must be a relative of Walnut, his face grizzled by age, weather and alcohol. Their plan A was to lean their too short ladder against the front face of our rolled in sun shade in an attempt to damage it. No point doing a job properly if you have an opportunity to bugger something up instead. Thankfully I was sitting here so was able to point out the flaw in plan A and suggest a plan B, simply leaning the ladder against the other wall where there was no sun shade and more direct access to the roof they wanted. Duh!

Polish work gangs of this kind tend to consist of three people; one drunk, one who observes more than supervises and one guy who does all the work. Larger gangs may involve more drunks or observers but rarely more workers. This, combined with the tradition of the “golden hand” (jack of all trades, master of none) make getting things done here somewhat more of a gamble than you’d like.

The best example of this is perhaps our Indian decorative wall panel in the bedroom. Bought for a reasonable amount from a wholesale ethnic furniture warehouse it is 1.5m tall, about 0.5m wide and made from solid carved wood, so quite heavy. It has two cross struts on the rear but no obvious way of fixing to a wall, as it was not designed for that.

I had been ruminating for a while on the best way to get it fixed on the wall without damaging it. This wasn’t going to be easy and probably involved creating a notch in the cross struts at the rear to hook onto other struts fixed to the wall. Parallel thoughts were concentrated on how to explain it was best to leave it leaning against the wall.

Beloved, meanwhile, was getting impatient as it had been considerably more than 10 minutes since we got it home. Along comes Mr Fixit, one of the security guards who could do anything. It wasn’t so much a security department in those days as a general purpose trading company. Whatever you were talking to them about, they could deal with it; theatre tickets, cleaning windows, fixing cars, buying property…you name it. The one thing they couldn’t deal with was security, hence their departure a while later.

Anyway, somewhere between Beloved’s impatience and Mr Fixit’s assurance that he was the man for the job, he was instructed to put the carved panel on the wall. He did, using two giant screws drilled straight through the face of the panel and into the wall behind! I cannot complain about the simplicity and effectiveness of his method but I am now hoping the panel is a Polish rip-off and not a genuine Indian antique.

Beware the “golden hand”!

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2 thoughts on “Thursday, November 8th

  1. This makes me wish for a new TV program: Antiques Roadshow Polska. Instead of the usual super polite UK appraisers, even when a made-sense-at-the-time modification renders a masterpiece worthless, I would hope for more animated and stunningly direct assessments of the situation and maybe even more intrusive personal questions.

  2. Would be an interesting project that’s for sure. I know exactly what you mean about the modifications where great grandma took thousands off the price. “Well, in its original condition it would be worth half a mill but as it is now it’s perhaps fifty quid, but you don’t care do you because great granny was such a nice old bird!” (happy smiles all round)

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