Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Community meeting

I went to my first community earthquake meeting to get an update on zoning, and the process involved for getting our house sorted. There was an amazing turnout at the local school hall:

...a lot of grey hair (check out the guy to the right of the photo - not happy):

It was long, there were several speakers (respresenting CERA, EQC, CCC and the Port Hills Geotech Mapping peeps) - it wasn't particularly informative, there were a lot of crazy hecklers, and I got tired so spent the last half sitting on the floor, watching a sea of angry peoples' legs.

The whole gist of it was: we are working through each white zone to make a decision about access to running water, but there are lots of people who don't even have access to their houses yet, so we have not forgotten you but you are quite far down the list in terms of priority. Can't really argue with that. No-one would put a time-scale on the process though, all they would confirm is that they hoped it would be complete within a couple of ............years. But it may be sooner. Here's hoping!

Monday, 17 October 2011


Don't get excited - nothing significant to report from around here. The weather is warming up though, and what is left of our garden is going crazy. I braved the potentially unsafe backyard to search for any remnants of my vege patch and was pleasantly surprised.

Some tarragon made it through:

And quite a few clumps of chives are thriving:

The lemon sage is going nuts, but I hate that stuff - it's just a glorified weed. But down in the bottom right of the photo you can spot a few small tufts of chervil:

And bizarrely, in the middle of the 'lawn', some parsley is springing up.

We have decided to start attacking the ivy which has consumed the plants on our path:

It's hard going, but satisfying, and it's nice to be doing something towards tidying things up around here.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

My pessimism pays off..

Did I say we were being re-zoned? Oh, I'm sorry - I meant to say that pretty much every single property surrounding us has been re-zoned to green. We are still white. Technically white means they are still assessing us, but a very small and very pessimistic part of me is getting very slightly worried that we may in fact be told we can no longer live here because of land issues.

Could that actually happen?

Monday, 5 September 2011

Sheesh - nearly a whole months between posts.

Things are certainly slow around here, we are gradually settling into life back here - things have been dull and quiet for a while, but the past week has heralded two pieces of good news.

Firstly, we met with our landscape architect to look over his plans for the section - he thought these out before the big quake, but they are still relevant - we might just have to wait a couple of years until we can start.

I won't talk you through it - except to say we think it's awesome, and it made us excited about the house in a way we haven't been for a good twelve months.

The second piece of good news came tonight - it looks like we are being re-zoned from white to green and we all know what green means: Go!

I'm still very pessimistic though, and doubt it will really alter the snail's pace of things around here. Let's see.

Thursday, 11 August 2011


Sorry for the unexpected hiatus - a minor hiccup on the family front. But back in action now.

The lighting situation at our place has become rather comic - all of our lampshades and lights seem to be beautiful, but useless. The ones in the living room are the worst, but the dining area and our bedroom were also pretty silly in terms of being dim (both had Poulson PH 5 shades - lovely, but pointless if you actually want to shed light on anything). Come sunset, we have been squirreling round like a couple of blind moles, in light not even bright enough to read a book in.

It got a lot worse after the earthquake, as we lost both of our table lamps.

So when we visited this lovely shop last weekend, we couldn't resist picking up something new. A Plumen bulb. They are pretty fun to look at, and as they don't need a shade should be reasonably bright. They are eco-bulbs though, which do tend to be a bit on the dim side.

Oh, and they are stupidly difficult to photograph. See better pictures here.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Let it snow...

Yes, a record dumping of snow fell yesterday. We are warm-ish. The underfloor heating is on, but I suspect we lose quite a bit through those plywood walls upstairs. This morning is sunny and clear, but the snow isn't budging yet...

Sunday, 24 July 2011

FAQ: Warren & Mahoney colors.

Every now and again we're asked "what are the Warren & Mahoney colors?"

So here they are:

Blockwork - pure white (inside and out)
Opening window / door sashes - Hairy Heath (rust)
Window / door frames - Mongoose (tan)

Warren & Mahoney used these colors almost exclusively during the 60s and 70s and the rust color was known as "Warren Tan" in the office at the time. No idea where the scheme originated?

These are the Resene names, but you could mix up any brand to the same color. And they were always applied nice and glossy, rich and wet-looking.

Miles' also had a fondness for orange which he used in the W&M logo and a grey-ish blue, often used to paint concrete lintels and foundations.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Other things

We had a meeting with our builder and a project supervisor from Fletchers today. Looks like things are still on hold indefinitely until they sort this shizz out with the White Zone.

In light of this, and the likelihood that nothing is going to change around here anytime soon, I have decided to branch out slightly and talk about a bit of other stuff. Still modern. Like modern-y things and modern-y stuff. I will blog about the house if and when things get moving. Okay? Okay.

To kick things off.... today's Google logo. Commemorating Alexander Calder's 116th birthday. No idea who he is, but the logo is a mobile, which swings gently, and using your mouse you can spin it round. Super fun.

ps - check out what's on our Trade Me watchlist (over on the right) - if you live in Wellington and have $800 000 to spare, I'd go have a look.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Home Cracked Home

We moved home yesterday -after getting the land report to say that although the bank may collapse further, the house should be okay. I've cleaned the place about three times, but it still feels dusty. I put clean linen on the bed and we slept here for the first time since February 19th.

There was a decent aftershock about ten minutes after we stepped in the door - ha!

In the afternoon I sifted through the ruins of our backyard and salvaged a few clothes-pegs.

The using some twine I found lying around, hoisted up a new clothes line - it's actually in a way better spot than the original, but I doubt Matt will approve of this location in the long run.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Why I have Katy Perry stuck in my head...

What a week it's been. I can't even recall where we were at when I last posted. We have gone from thinking work was about to begin, to the announcement of the "White Zone" - after which our scaffolding was actually taken down and carried away.

Our builder sighed, and said "Hmmm, I think we should maybe touch base again in 6 - 12 months, because nothing is going to happen before then"...we wept.

Then this whole land report, which had apparently been mailed to us, but actually hadn't been mailed to anyone.

I kept chasing this up - it was obvious the report had been prepared, and all the land assessments finalised, and all we really wanted to know was whether it would be safe to go home.

I called one of my contacts at the local Hub: "Remember me? The slightly deranged woman who came in with a folder of paperwork and a snotty baby boy?".... and she put me in touch with someone from the EQC in Christchurch. Anyone who has been a part of this earthquake will appreciate what a big deal that is - mostly we can only speak to call centre staff in Auckland or Brisbane.

Anyway, this guy had our land report and was able to tell me the pertinent points (ie the cliff/bank is not safe, but our house is, so long as we stay in the house and don't hang out under the cliff). So I mentioned to this friendly, intelligent guy that our scaffolding had been removed and how gutted we were that it looked like it would be twelve months or more before our house is fixed. "What?" he said. "We should be fixing it right now," he said. "I will talk to someone tomorrow about this," he said. But that's not the amazing part - the amazing part is....

....he did.


And I got a call today saying that Fletchers will meet me at home next week for a 2.5 hour meeting to discuss the extent of work and project management, and would it be okay if they were to begin and finish work in the next three months?



Hell yes.

Bring it.

Oh, and I can't get this song out of my head - I hate it. It just sums up what's happening here. Such a bloody emotional rollercoaster.

Monday, 11 July 2011

I seriously can't believe this....

Hello this is the Earthquake Commission, how can I help?

Me: Hi, I was expecting our Skope Of Works for our land to arrive in the mail, and it hasn't, so I was just calling to see if you could send another copy?

Okay, I'll just look you up on our system......[long pause, lots of tapping, verifies my identity etc etc]... Right...hmmmm....I'll just transfer you to our claims department in Brisbane..

[hold music - quite rocky, no more plinkity plink keyboard music - nice touch]

Hello, this is M------, I understand you are calling about your land claim?

Me: Yeah, I thought our reports had been forwarded to us but nothing has arrived in the mail...

Right, no, we are not sending out reports any more.

Me: So nothing has been sent to me?

That's correct.

Me: Right. So can you tell me anything about our land claim?

I can read you parts of your engineer's report over the phone, but I can't give you any costing information.

Me: Okay, anything would be great

Okay, so it says here that following the September quake, there was partial failure of five of your retaining walls, and full failure following the February quake.

Me: Um. We never had any retaining walls. That doesn't sound like our property.

[Laughs] Okaaaay. Hmmm. It looks like we have the incorrect report attached to your file. Sorry.

Me: So how do we find the report for our property?

Do you know who the engineer was? I think you should contact them directly.

Me: Righto. I'll do that then [trying to sound cheery, and not at all irritated].

Anything else I can help you with?

Me: No, thank you.

This conversation actually took 26 minutes. 26 minutes for nothing. Nadda. Zilch. I have left a message with the engineer (fortunately I know who it is), but don't like my chances of getting a reply seeing as he is in the midst of making assessments of the entire Port Hills region right now.

I am so annoyed I can't even be bothered attaching a photo to this post.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Guess who just had a real life conversation with someone helpful?

So, I took my folder of correspondence with me, and walked right into the Fletcher's Hub dealing with our house, and I sat down and said I wasn't leaving until I spoke to someone with authorit-y.

Not really - I asked nicely to talk to someone about where we were at. I was expecting to have security called on me or something, but instead a lovely lady named Di came and listened while I explained the whole history of our house, she was intelligent, and understanding. Then she went and found our file, and had a chat to someone else and came back and said 'don't worry'.

She explained that we were right near the top of the list (higher than she herself was, or that lady over there on reception....oops, starting to feel bad now), and given that our Skope of Works was in the mail (AKA "what is majorly happening to your land"), it looks like we will be getting things moving as soon as anyone. Unfortunately, it does look like our scaffolding will be taken away, as any land remediation will be carried out before work on the house beings.

I cannot express how amazing it was to have a face to face conversation with someone. And at the end she gave me her card with her number on it and told me to call her directly if I need to know anything. Amazing.

I don't see any reason why I couldn't have been told this over the phone, but I had a hunch that going in in person might yield more results. Now we just need to wait for that letter to arrive.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

One step forward....five steps backwards.

So last week, the big guys 'zoned' the entire city:

We fell in the white zone. We thought it was no big deal, and had no real consequence to our repairs. We had our scaffolding up, and our builder was talking to the EQC about starting work. Then in today's paper they came out and said that they have put a hold on all repairs in the white zone...indefinitely.

Our scaffolding is going to be taken down. We have no timeline. We have gone from optimistically hoping work would begin in the next few weeks, to the very real possibility it may be over 12 months before anything happens.

What the heck am I going to blog about if that happens?

Another phone call...

Hello this is the Earthquake Commission, how can I help?

Me: Hi, about ten days ago someone called me and said they were assessing our land, and would get back to me within a day or so and I hadn't heard anything so was just calling to see how it was going?

I see, can I have your claim number? And full name? And address?

Me: [gives details]..

Right, um, okay, let's see......[pause]...okay.....[pause]...it looks like we have assessed your land.


Me: Okay, so what was the assessment?

It looks like we have sent you a letter, um, this morning.

Me: Okay, great, what was in the letter?

You will receive the letter in 5-7 working days.

Me: Can't you just tell me what it says now? Seeing as I'm on the phone?

I'm afraid I can't see that. But I can see that you are being sent a letter which talks about what is majorly happening to your land.

[this is actually what he said "majorly happening to your land" - wtf?].

Me: Majorly happening to our land?

Yes that's right Ma'am.

[he actually called me that too - "ma'am"].

Me: Is there anyone I can talk to who can tell me what is in the letter?

No, but I will make a note that you would like to know what is in the letter...[taps on keyboard]....is there anything else I can help you with?

Me: Ah no, you have been majorly helpful....loser.

[I didn't actually say this, but it's what I thought. I am not mean to people who work in call centres as I was one once. It's not their fault there was a majorly massive earthquake and the EQC was majorly unprepared and they were at the front of the dole queue and so had to take the stupid call centre job talking to all the Christchurch losers who are all grumpy because they desperately want to know what is majorly happening to their land].

No doubt I will have a major update in 5-7 working days.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Un-prompted contact!

After all my whinging and moaning, I received a phone call this morning from an actually quite intelligent sounding woman who was simply calling to let me know that a team of peeps from the EQC were going up to the house today to have a look at our cliff. As in progress. I have no idea what this means, but it's got to be a step in the right direction, yes?

I can't believe how this is totally like what I imagine to be going on behind the scenes right now...

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Average weekday morning.

Phone Call Number 1.

Me: Good morning builder-who-shall-remain-unnamed. Just wanted to check in and see if we have made any progress towards starting repairs...

I haven't heard anything - maybe you should try calling Fletchers directly and see if you can get them to assign the job to me.

Me: Okay, so I'm asking them to appoint you as supervisor?


Me: Okay. Will do. Speak to you soon.

Phone Call Number 2.

Welcome to Fletchers, this is Sing-Song-Telephone-Operator-Voice

Me: Hi, I wanted to speak to someone about beginning repairs on our house and appointing our own contractor.

Did you want to opt out of the scheme?

Me: No, I wanted - ...

I'm sorry, but repairs will not be beginning for some weeks in your area, someone will get in touch with you directly at a later date, goodbye.

Dial tone.

Phone Call Number 3:

Welcome to Fletchers, this is Abrupt-It's-Only-9am-And-I-Want-To-Go-Home

Me: Hi, I wanted to speak to someone about electing our own EQR approved contractor to project manage our repair work.

You mean you want to opt out?

Me: No, I want to elect our own contractor to manage the repairs.

I'm sorry, you can't do that.

Me: But it says right here I can do that...

I'm sorry, I will have to get someone to call you back [takes contact details].

Phone Call Number 4.

[waits 7 minutes on hold listening to repeated messages of other numbers I can call for help - none of which are applicable to me]

Hello Earthquake Commission, you're speaking with Student-JobSearch-Kid-Who-Has-No-Idea-And-Doesn't-Care, can I have your claim number? [looks me up in the system, asks my address and verifies I am the homeowner]

Me: I was just trying to get an idea of what is happening with the land part of our claim, and when we will be able to move back to our house?

One moment please

[waits 2 minutes on hold - stupid music that sounds like my one-year-old son on a xylophone]
Hello, you're speaking with Very-Busy-Why-Do-Those-Idiots-On-The-Front-Desk-Keep-Transferring-Calls-To-Me.

Me: Oh hi, I was just trying to see where the land part of my claim is at?

Can I have your claim number? [looks me up in the system, asks my address and verifies that I am the homeowner] Okay....[taps at keyboard]....hmmm...the engineer's report is here...[taps at keyboard]...hmm. We seem to have all the documentation...I'm going to have to transfer you to another department.

[on hold - same stupid music]

Hello you're speaking with Someone-Obviously-In-Brisbane-Australia-But-Let's-Pretend-I-Am-Right-There-In-New-Zealand-And-Have-Some-Understanding-Of-What-You're-Going-Through.

Me: Hi? I just got transferred to you regarding my land claim?

What's your claim number? [looks me up in the system, asks my address and verifies I am the homeowner] Okay. We aren't currently processing land claims - we are concentrating on house claims and repairs and will be looking at land claims at a later date.

Me: Right.

Anything else I can help you with?

[dial tone]

Thursday, 2 June 2011

One step forward...

Well, as far as landscaping the garden this year goes, I think that will have to wait. I'm starting to grow attached to the pile of rubble out the front though - some sort of installation piece perhaps?

Anyway, something happened. Like, something has been fixed, which has to be a step in the right direction.

We got new doors for the dining area:

They haven't been treated yet, but they are exact replicas of the ones that were there, and are fitted with the pre-existing brass fittings. Finally. Something positive.

I've managed to get some half decent photos showing how the floor has slumped in the corners - above and below are the dining room corner.

..And the same has happened in the living area:

It's much more noticeable when you see it in real-life. As I mentioned earlier, the EQC's plan to dig up our entire floor and re-lay it doesn't sit well with us. We have looked into an alternative, and it seems promising.

In the meantime, we are starting to struggle with not living in our house, and so are about to start the big clean, and move back in. Despite the fact that the cliff hasn't been sorted.

Who cares if it's not technically safe? So long as we keep the back doors shut, we should be okay, right?

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Broken things - Part 4

I know it's getting a little depressing, cataloging everything we lost, but there is something cathartic and final about it. Making a list, setting it down, so we can start thinking of positive things - like getting new stuff (one day, when we eventually get paid some sort of insurance)!

These chairs were a housewarming/wedding gift from my brother. A traditional style deck chair, similar to what was the folks sat in on board the Titanic.

It was pretty sweet sitting in them on a nice day, enjoying our courtyard...but alas.

You can kind of see remnants of one of them in the rubble there. Alongside a piece of our back door - which we also (obviously) lost. And come to mention it, the ends of the clothesline are visible above the kitchen window - not a major loss, but for a laundry-fiend like myself, distressing enough.

There hasn't been any change in our situation yet. Still waiting, not complaining though, I think the task of fixing this city is huge, so we're kind of happy to be in a line at all, even though we're probably far from the front.

[top image is a watercolour by Sir Miles Warren of the Raymond House]

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Broken things - Part 3

We had two of these lovely Snelling Saran Lounge chairs. Well, one footstool but two chairs. I think they were slightly different. The reason I am not sure is that they never made it to our house. We bought them on Trade Me a couple of years ago, they had been restored and were nearly finished - we had a professional upholsterer re-webbing them (in black).

Then the professional upholsterer's premises collapsed in the earthquake. Not only were the chairs severely damaged, but the building was such a danger that it and all it's contents were demolished before any retrieval could occur.

We're not sure if insurance will cover them, as they technically weren't in our house at the time, but we're putting in a claim anyway, just in case.


Thursday, 28 April 2011

Broken things - Part 2

Ah, the clock...I've always had a bit of a love/hate thing going on with this clock. It had a shaky start in our lives - while I was studying in Melbourne I saved and saved in order to buy one as a Christmas present for Matt, and had it smuggled to New Zealand (where we were to spend Christmas), only to discover, when I signed for a courier, that he had gone and purchased one for himself, like the week before Christmas. The aspect of this that irked me the most was that I had spent days on foot and on the telephone sourcing one, and had to order it in specially, while he just went to the MOMA website and ordered online. I wasn't as good at the internet as I am now.

More recently, I have gone off the clock as these bastards are selling cheap replicas, and it is actually quite hard to tell the difference. Call me a snob (I won't deny it) but I hate the thought of people visiting our house and thinking we shop at that horrendous store.

So when it fell off the wall and on to the concrete tiles, my heart didn't sink as much as it probably should have. The arms got all bent, and I tried to bend them back, but now it just looks all munted.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Broken things - Part 1

I have been spending time over the last few weeks getting photos and quotes together to finalise our contents claim with our insurance company. When the quake hit, I thought we got off pretty lightly in terms of contents, but now that I'm going over it, there are quite a lot of special things which unfortunately got broke.

Including both our Artemide Tizio table lamps.

Turns out these are pretty fragile wee things. When it comes to falling on to concrete (although the one in our bedroom just got slammed against the wall and broke). We will be able to replace them, but with new ones - ours were older and therefore cooler.

One of our lamps in better days..

Monday, 18 April 2011

Exciting new feature!!

This is not relevant to the thousands of people who subscribe to this blog via Google Reader (or other applications where you can't see the extra stuff like banners and ads from our sponsors. Ha! Sponsors! I kill me), but anyway, over on the side bar I have added a new feature.

While the rest of the world has eBay, or craigslist, here in New Zealand we have Trade Me. We are always watching something, and occasionally we bid and get new stuff. We also sell stuff over there. The earthquake has given us a whole new excuse to buy more stuff. Not only for us, but also for Matt's office (his old office is still within the central city cordon so he has no access to his furniture).

If you are nosey, or interested, or looking for something nice and can't be bothered trawling through all the listings, then check out my new "Watching on Trade Me" thingy over on the right. Apologies, but I couldn't think of a more inspiring name. I've kicked things off with this Rosewood coffee table.

Friday, 15 April 2011

We have some action...sort of.

That's right, it's been nearly two months since the big quake, and the weeds are growing through the rubble.

We are considering ourselves very lucky, because despite earlier predictions, the EQC guys came up today, clipboards in hand, to carry out the full assessment of our house.

There was lots of measuring and pointing with laser beams. Basically they just made a big list of broken things, and the repairs that were required to fix them. It took over two hours. Two hours!! It was boring. Something of an anti-climax. They weren't interested in the cliff at all - there are special "Land Assessors" for that.

The big issue that we discussed is the downstairs flooring - it has slumped in the corners of the house, and in order to fix it, all the tiles, grout, underfloor heating and concrete would have to be removed (read - uninhabitable house, tonnes of dust, dirt, work), and relaid. New tiles. After the hours of agonising, I have to admit, I've formed quite an attachment to those dirty old quarry tiles. The thought of new ones, even if identical, just upsets me. We have heard rumours of some process which involves pumping a filler under the slumped corners, thereby preserving the flooring, but the assessors didn't know what we were on about, and so it's not looking promising.

We are desperate to get back into our house. I spent more time there today than I have since the quake, and it was just so sad to lock it up and leave again. It is starting to smell. It's getting musty, and it's dark because of the boarded up broken doors. There is still a layer of dust over everything, and even though I had lot of time today, I just couldn't bring myself to clean up - it seems so futile when more sanding and painting and general mess-making is going to be done.

Anyway, we should consider ourselves lucky to have ticked this assessment off the list - there are thousands of houses needing urgent assessment, most are probably more damaged than ours. I just keep have to keep repeating it - lucky lucky lucky.