Sunday, 31 October 2010

Visiting the dead

It's Halloween today. We don't really celebrate it, athough I'm partial to the odd ghoulish story.

I've been trying to do a little research on the original owners of the Sow's Ear  - the Stables family. It was owned by two sisters and their bachelor brother. I've written a little about it here and here

They seem to be an interesting bunch, particularly paranormal Zoila who used to have out of body experiences. Spooky, huh?

Recently, I found a death notice on the National Library of Australia newspaper records for the patriach of the Stables family - William Cordukes Stables. He was buried at Mount Thompson Crematorium in 1935. It appears he also lived in the same street as his children.

funeral notice for William Cordukes Stables from The Courier Mail 1/08/35

This morning, I went to the Crematorium to pay him a visit. I'm good like that. Actually, I thought that I would be able to find out whether the rest of the Stables were buried there too. 

Unfortunately, the crematorium office was closed today, so I couldn't view their records or obtain a map of where to find the plaque. 

It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack...but for some unexplained reason, a strong force lead me to the West Chapel of the gardens. 

Mt Thompson Memorial Gardens - courtyard

I entered a small courtyard to the right of the chapel and was instantly drawn to a simple fountain.

And, remarkably, I found William's plaque. It is quite a large ornate plaque which indicates to me that he was perhaps a man of some wealth. 

Sadly, there were no other plaques for the Stables family surrounding him, which was the main purpose for my visit.

I will have to wait for the Office to re-open to see if the rest of the family are in fact there. However, some sixth sense tells me that they are not...

Friday, 29 October 2010

My avatar

I've been blogging for a little while and you know me by the name of Brismod with a profile picture of a lady with a flower in her hair.

Let me introduce you to this lady - I found her while sorting through my packing boxes.

Mum as a young woman growing up in Tahiti
I don't know why I packed it away. It is the loveliest studio photograph.

I did some sketches of this photo which I then painted on canvas. My efforts are no where near as lovely as the photograph though - I've decided it should hang in the house.

The rough sketch of this photo is my profile picture. There you go, you've learnt something new.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Still unpacking

It's nearly 18 months since we moved to the Sow's Ear and I still have boxes that are unpacked. They are under the house in the gimp room.

Today I sorted through some of the last remaining things, which were mostly photographs and books. I had actually forgotten what were inside the boxes...

Some of the books and albums unpacked

I found my dictionary (I've been using Google to look up words!), some French books, old university text books and two well-used Let's Go travel books from 1990s. It's a big reminder of a life before children!

I was overjoyed to be reunited with them, especially as I thought they had been given away during the great moving purge of 2009.

And then there were the dozen or so photo albums. I've missed having them near too. Nearly all of our photographs are in albums, but that's probably because most of my photos predate digital photography.

Our book shelf situation is quite lean - it will be culling and sorting time again. The hoarder in me hates this task. If only we had a dedicated library in this house...because I dread being ruthless with books. Or anything really.

So, do you still have unpacked moving boxes? And how do you store all of your books and photo albums? Are you ruthless?

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Breeding Festivos

Small Iittala Festivo candleholder collection

These slippery suckers are breeding.

I have three more Iittala Festivo candle holders to add to the collection - another two-ring and two one-ring holders.

Sadly, I'm not quite as fortunate in my op-shop adventures as Midcentury Jo. Check out her bounty. Lucky Jo, finding such great Finnish homewares.

Anyway, I'm wondering if these new additions can breed into a four or five ring candleholder?

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

A mixed bag

There have been rain showers, on and off, for the past few weeks which means I always miss my opportunity to spray the bindi (or jojo) weeds.

You need at least 24 hours of dry weather, so that it is effective. Every time the weather is good, I am always doing something else. In the meantime, the weeds are still growing and multiplying.

Everyday, I've been hand-weeding with the little one on the front lawn. He keeps trying to run on the road while I'm distracted, so I've had to curtail  weeding duties for when he is asleep.

Bag o' weed. Homegrown organic bindi anyone?.
 The gladioli are blooming in the front yard and I've treated myself to a couple for inside the house.

You don't bring me flowers anymore, Jason.

Exterior painting has also resumed. Jason started repainting the lattice doors on the back deck landing on Sunday afternoon. It's not finished yet but I thought I'd show you anyway.

I have a feeling Jason will start the deck rails this weekend too, if the weather is good.

Repainting the lattice door. Jason also added some new brass knobs.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Weekend jobs and leadlight French doors

We've been trying to make the most of the weekends to do work around the Sow's Ear and garden.

Yesterday morning and this morning, the mulch from the tree stump grinding was spread throughout the various garden beds in the backyard. But there's still a lot left over. Next weekend we'll do the front yard.

#3 Son watching the weeding take place.

Shirtless Jason shoveling mulch to spread onto the garden beds 

After the yard work, the leadlight French doors which lead out from the kitchen onto the deck were stripped back. There didn't seem to be many layers of paint and with the help of a heat gun the paint just peeled off.

Using the heat gun to strip the paint. (Oh dear. An occupational health and  safety officer, Jason is not.)

It was a laborious job, but Jason seemed happy enough to do it. He wanted to see how it would look with an au naturel oil finish. My preference is a simple white gloss finish.

Painting an oil finish on the French doors

The doors looked like they had a really bad fake tan. They will be painted white gloss instead. At least we won't die curious...

Also, it seems I have unwittingly propelled Jason and Mr Rooney, our debonair builder, to superstar status via this blog. I've been inundated with email questions regarding Mr Rooney (actually just one enquiry, but that's better than none, right?).  And Jason, well...without him there is no blog.

Anyway, they think chicks dig them. Now they've developed a bit of a strut when they're out and about. It's very funny.

I stumbled upon this hilarious The Flight of the Conchords music clip, so I thought I'd dedicate this song to Jason and Mr Rooney - legends in their own minds. It should be their anthem.

You know what I'm sayin', baby.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Mysteries of a house and tie wars

Underneath the Sow's Ear we have the most curious protrusions on the floorboard joists. And we are not sure what they are. There are at least 50 of them which are made from metal.

We asked what they were during the building and pest inspection last year, just before we bought this old place. The building inspector had no idea. That made me uneasy, however he assured us they were doing no harm.

metal plates underneath the house

Mr Rooney, our most learned builder, has also surveyed the protrusions. He told us that he has worked on hundreds of Queenslander homes and never has he seen such a thing.

more metal 

I could not help but take that as a compliment.

Jason is banned from removing them at this stage. He removed about ten or so, but I asked him to stop. Wouldn't we feel silly to have removed them all, only to realise that they were necessary?

Do you know what they are? Surely someone out there can shed some light on our mysterious bits of metal.

And to go completely off topic, Jason was going to Ipswich this morning and then has a special lunch to attend at Moo Moos in the City - it is not a very good vegetarian restaurant, judging by its name.

He wanted me to take a photograph of his tie. He's clearly fallen under the spell of Faux.

I reminded him that this blog was a renovation blog and that my avid readers were not interested in his work attire. It is what he doesn't wear during renovating that interests them more (isn't that right, Mrs Moerk and Madame Pooch?)

But he insisted. I complied. After I reviewed the photograph, I told him his tie looked a bit boring.

White cotton poplin shirt teamed with funereal looking tie

007 rolled his eyes and said, "Classic [long pause] is never boring."

Please note this will be the first and last image of Jason's work clothes. Other blogs do this sort of thing a million times better than us.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Small world and Faux Fuchsia sighting

Six degrees of separation exists in Brisbane - it's just like a country town. Everyone seems to know everyone and if you don't, there is often some sort of connection.

For example:

Mr Rooney, our thrifty builder, is related by marriage to the glamorous Katherine from theoldboathouse. (Mr Rooney's sister is married to Katherine's brother, I think.)

They've been commenting on this blog under their pseudonyms not realising the connection they shared. Mr Rooney made the discovery last week when their niece started a blog, which only has two readers.

When Mr Rooney enquired about the other follower, his niece said it was Aunty Kath from the oldboathouse. And then the penny dropped.

Image from here

Isn't that a classic? A reminder of what a small world we live in.

Speaking of small worlds, Jason also emailed me to say that he had had a Faux Fuchsia sighting while he was on his lunch break in the City, yesterday.

Yes, you heard me. The real Faux - Brisbane's most famous blogger who endorses good grooming and well manicured fingernails.

Jason is a huge fan. He advocates the same things. He likes to think of himself as a fashionisto.

Anyway, stylish FF is an enigma in this town - you never see her face (she's like the Stig), just her lovely frocks, hair and nail polish. Imagine my surprise when Jason sent me this email:

Just thought you’d like to know…. I saw Faux & Mr FF walking down the mall today. She in leopard skin dress, he in sober suit teamed with gaudy* tie - I’m sure it was them...

My reply:

Oh wow! Did you stop to get their autograph? Or did they stop to get yours?

His response:

I doubt they’d have recognised me with my shirt on.

Aahh yes, he's a one-joke wonder, our shirtless Jason. It must have been a slow work day too.  I thought that was highly amusing and suggested he do a Clark Kent (i.e find a phone box and change into his painting shorts) next time he sees them.

But I do wonder if it was really them he saw...

*For the record, I like interesting ties. Jason likes restraint in his work attire, so any pattern other than a stripe is considered flamboyant. He asks himself before he buys work clothes, "Would James Bond wear this?" 

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


Bindi weed is the bane of my life at the moment. The rain we've had in Brisbane over the past few weeks has made them get out of hand in our lawn.

Bindi, lawn and barefoot children are an unhappy mix.

I'm doing the old fashion thing and digging them out but it is such a tedious job. It's also overwhelming when there is so much of it in the lawn.

Bindi in the lawn

When I'm digging them out I often wonder how anyone could name their child after an evil prickly weed - it has no redeeming features. As  a result, I've developed a deep dislike for Bindi Irwin through name association.

Do you think I've left my run too late to spray them with herbicide? I meant to do it during the September school holidays but the timing has never been good with all the rain we've had.

Any good suggestions?

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Mid-Century tour

On the weekend, I was invited to join a self-drive mid-century architectural tour of a small part of Brisbane - St Lucia, Indooroopilly and Toowong.

The planned route and architecture had been selected by my hard-core modernist friend Chris, so that we could view designs by Brisbane architects such as Hayes & Scott, Karl Langer, Douglas & Barnes and Donald Spencer. 

There were about 24 of us and we visited nine places of interest, three of which were mod churches.

Baptistery at Holy Family Church 1961
Stained Glass design by Andrew Sibley

It was certainly a different way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Brisbane is not well known for its modernist architecture, but it does exist if you look long and hard enough.

Most of it is unappreciated which is unfortunate. And the homes are usually knocked down because they are usually on prized parcels of land and new Tuscan villas are erected in their place.

We were able to have a very good look at one fabulous Hayes & Scott home in Indooroopilly which is a deceased estate with the original furniture. It will be torn down soon to be redeveloped. It was the home which broke everyone's heart because it could be a gem again with the right owners. (Sadly, there is no photo of it)

So, here is a quick pictorial of some of the groovy places we saw on the tour. 

Wiener House 1954 designed by Edwin Hayes
Located in St Lucia, it is still owned by the original owner who used to own a fashion boutique in the City.

Langer House 1950 designed by Karl Langer
This house is located in St Lucia. Originally the house would have been cutting edge for Brisbane in 1950.

Karana Village 1969 designed by Donald Spencer & Spencer
Brisbane's first town-house development located in Toowong. The blue and brown brick was funky.

Russell House 1954 designed by Campbell Scott
Located in Indooroopilly. This house is owned by an Heritage architect. We found out because she came out, wondering why 24 people were gathered on the footpath looking at her home!

Holy Family Catholic Church 1961 designed by Douglas & Barnes
This is located in Indooroopilly. It is an amazing concrete structure which is in disrepair, as there is severe concrete cancer and rust. The parish is fundraising to help restore it.

All images are courtesy of Chris Osborne who organised a great afternoon.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Heritage places

Last week owners of an 1860s heritage listed home, Lochiel, copped a $350,000 fine for alterations made to their building without Queensland Heritage Council approval.

A Courier Mail article said that the owners bought the already heritage listed house in Hamilton for $6.4 million in 2006.  They removed foundations and walls and enlarged a wine cellar without the necessary approval. The fine was the highest ever imposed for such an offence.

The Heritage Register describes Lochiel as "a rare, intact and fine example of a suburban estate; its evolution over several stages (the earliest believed to date from the 1860s) well illustrating the development of Brisbane..."

Lochiel image from here

Read the full article here if you'd like. But it is actually the 127 comments attached to the online article which are more interesting.

Old real estate listing of Lochiel. Image from here
An alarming number of the comments were in support of the owner who was fined.

There was an attitude that the laws were draconian, government should butt out since they don't own the property and some even suggested the owners torch the home as revenge against the fine!!

Whoa! It is pretty depressing to think how little some people value heritage.

And I understand people don't like to be told what to do on their own property. I wouldn't like to be told how to renovate our old bathroom either.

However, I did not purchase a heritage listed property which places restraints on what you can do to the property. I did not take on the responsibility of a heritage listed home and what that entails. Click here to find out what owning a heritage property in Queensland means.

There were also comments that said if the external facade is preserved, then the owners should be able to do what they like inside. No one will be able to see it anyway.

Other comments also highlighted the hypocrisy and poor track record of successive State Governments when it came to protecting heritage listed places.

Yungaba image from here
The beautiful Yungaba, a 120 year old immigration centre and the majestic Regent Theatre are now in the hands of property developers and sadly, preservation is not the name of the game when you're a developer.

Regent Theatre image from here.
All is not yet lost with the Regent, so if you haven't had your say and wanted to save the theatre, follow this link.

So, what do you think about heritage places? Do you think it is fair to be fined for renovating an heritage listed property? Is it really government being draconian? Or are Queenslanders a bunch of rednecks (I can say this, because I'm born and bred in Queensland), who just don't get what heritage means?

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Festivo candle holders by Iittala

Festivo candle holders were designed by Timo Sarpaneva in 1966 for Finnish glass makers Iittala.

That they are still produced to this day, after first appearing 44 years ago, is a testament to its classic design.

Apparently, Sarpaneva was inspired by the wooden moulds that glassblowers threw out and he used them to produce the bark/icicle texture seen in the Festivo design.

image from here

They come in eight sizes and are distinguished by the undulating rings. I have seen all eight of the different sized candle holders displayed en masse with candles lit during a cocktail party. It made a striking display and its simplicity was breathtaking.

(As an aside, one of the candle holders exploded from the intensity of the heat when a candle burnt too low. So, beware of exploding crystal.)

Being the copy cat that I am, I bought my first vintage Festivo candle holder for my bark glass shelf in the kitchen. It has two rings.

Two ring Festivo candle holder on the open shelves

I'll be buying a couple more to make the place look festive at Christmas time. It's in lieu of tinsel.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Hopscotch French doors and demo yards

Being child free for most of Jason's birthday last Friday meant we were able to zoom around quite easily.

After a delicious lunch, we checked out two demo yards which are located on the southside of Brisbane, the Tarragindi Renovator's Barn and the the Demolition Yard at Coorparoo.  We wanted to see if they had French doors which match the existing hopscotch profile we have in the Sow's Ear.

We have a large doorway from the kitchen to the sunroom which is missing it's French doors. It would be good to close off the main core of the house during cold winter days or if we air-condition the house.

Hopscotch profile doors. image from here

No luck, unfortunately. However, it was still good to check out what they had.  If you saw how solid and lovely the old doors were, you'd never want to buy new doors ever again, if you could avoid it.  Our eyes are still peeled though.

Jason also got to drive around in his potential mid-life crisis. Be afraid for me, as I think my frugal ways will be affronted if Jason buys the sports car. The poor dear will be sentencing himself to DIY hell if he blows our money on the car!

Peugeot RCZ getting too comfortable on our property after a test drive!!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Stump grinding

Sorry, there's a re-occurring theme of knobs and stumps at the Sow's Ear at the moment. Naturally, all unintended innuendo.

Our old mango tree stump near the external side stairs is no longer after a spot of stump grinding. We are clearing the area to make way for new side stairs.

We called in the professionals because the stump was literally petrified wood and also enormous. Jason's axe would bounce off the tree stump with hardly a dent.

I also had to get out my tape measure to measure it for the grinding quote- it was well over 1 1/2 metres wide!

Anyway, I was completely blown away by the stump grinding machine ( note to self: need to go out more).

My alternative post headings were going to be: Veni, vidi, vici or Tonka toys on steroids. Check out the images below and you'll see why.

The stump grinding machine arriving. (sorry, photo taken through a window)

It was operated by remote control. The clever thing is doing a u-turn!

Getting ready to make mince meat out of the tree stump

It swept from side to side, ripping the tree stump into shreds

Sated and crawling away to its master
Lots of mulch left behind to spread onto the garden beds.
The whole grinding process from go to whoa was about 40 minutes. It was incredible to watch it shred the stump so effortlessly - you seriously wouldn't want to fall into that beast's path.

The mob we used were fantastic. The quote was competitive, they scheduled the job quickly and best of all, they arrived when they said they would. You really can't get better than that.

If you are located in the Brisbane area and need stump grinding, their details can be found here.

On another topic, Jason was chuffed with all your well wishes for his 40th Birthday. He really was. He had a terrific day off - lots of fun being a hoon. xx

Thursday, 7 October 2010


Jason gets the rough end of the pineapple in this blog. He slaves away at the Sow's Ear at all hours of the day and night and then I make fun of him. It's a hard life.

With that said, the Brisbane Times reckon he's sexy while shirtless, so it can't be all bad. And he has the blog to thank for such belated recognition.

Well, tomorrow it's his birthday. His 40th.

Toddler Jason at kindy - a style leader in checks and plaid.

Jason as a lad flying model airplanes

He is taking the day off work on his birthday, so we can have lunch together and then test drive this baby.

Peugeot RCZ

He passionately described the Peugeot RCZ, as and I quote verbatim:

"When I first saw this car I said, 'Haahh!'. It took my breath away.

"It's like when you catch a glimpse of a beautiful curvaceous woman from a distance and you gasp, 'Haahh!'. It's just beautiful. Beautiful looking. And it's also French."

He assured me that he was completely serious, when I asked him if we were still talking about a car and not the young receptionist at work. Hmmm...I can feel a mid-life crisis coming on, particularly as Jason is not a "car person".

Anyway, think of us as we hoon around Brisbane tomorrow on the test drive (tyre kicking exercise rather than actually purchasing, unless we catch a bout of affluenza).

Oh and Happy Birthday dear Jason! xxooxx

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

French Door lock

Polish, polish, polish.

Rub, rub, rub.

Original French door lock, which had been painted cream, stripped back to its original finish.

It's all I ever seem to hear around here lately.

Kodak moment captured just before I went to bed.

Until last night when at 10 o'clock in the evening, Jason was changing some plastic door knobs with some new brass ones.

I heard the faint sound of Jason muttering, "C'mon! You PRICK!" to the French door, as I drifted off to sleep.

The new brass never looks as good as the aged stuff, but time will work its magic. 
This French door will need to be sanded and re-painted down the track.

Polish, polish, polish

Rub, rub, rub...

...will continue until further notice.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Blessed Stairs

Mr Rooney, our most affable builder, likes to visit us unannounced. And that is just fine with us. It keeps us on our toes (he wears high visibility, so we can see him a mile off).

The purpose of his visit was to deliver RSJs (rolled steel joists) to be used as bearers for our external side staircase landing/deck. Mr Rooney informed us they were salvaged from the Sisters of St Joseph - from their now demolished garage.

He then whisked Jason off to the local Catholic school to pick up some salvaged steel posts, which had been set aside for us, from a Building the Education Revolution project. Another blessed gift.

Mr Rooney and Jason delivering the holy bounty of steel posts.

Apparently they weighed 60 kg a piece and it was an interesting ten minute drive home. They will be perfect to replace the rotting timber posts on our external side staircase.

The steel posts were salvaged shade sail posts.
Image courtesy Mr Rooney.

"Old fashioned RSJs. Top stuff. For free," Mr Rooney said.
Image courtesy Mr Rooney.
Mr Rooney was very good to salvage such excellent building materials from his holy connections. They may as well be re-purposed at our place rather than being scrapped. The added bonus is that our building material outlay will be greatly reduced.

We think it is highly amusing that Mr Rooney is sanctifying the Sow's Ear. Deliberately, it would seem.

I might have to rename the blog St. Fun and VJs.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Brasso and painting in the dark

Jason loves brass. He loves it so much that he is happily prepared to polish it (between you and me, he's probably sniffing the Brasso when I'm not looking).

polishing the brass door knobs

With today's rainy weather restricting his activities, Jason decided to polish the old door knobs and escutcheons on some of the French doors. They do look better when given loving attention.

I told Jason that brass was coming back into fashion according to the Design Blogs. He scoffed and stated, "It never went out of fashion!"

He's clearly a denialist.

And as I am typing this blog post, Jason is undercoating the French doors and some VJ (vertical join) board in the sun room in the dark.

Painting in the dark.
These VJ boards replaced an obsolete window which opened from the kitchen to the sun room.

The only light fitting in the room is busted and time ran out to paint in daylight hours. It is impossible to paint with two-year old son # 3 awake, because we can't close off the room...and I didn't fancy taking him on a three hour walk in the rain.

It should be interesting to see what Jason's efforts look like in the day time!
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