Cleaning the carpet

Today was dominated by cleaning. I vacuumed the house to get all the loose dust collected, and then I attacked the carpet with a carpet shampooing machine that I’d hired from the local hardware store. I do this about every 6 months to rejuvenate and deep clean the carpet. It comes up nice and fresh, but it’s a few hours of hard work. Although the day was cold again, I was bathed in sweat by the time I’d finished the cleaning.

After returning the carpet cleaner to the hardware store, I treated myself to lunch at a Japanese place near there. And then I took it easy for the afternoon since I was kind of worn out.

New content today:

Cleaning and writing

I’m just trying to think what I did today. It was pretty much all taken up by cleaning the shower, writing comics, and taking Scully out to the dog park.

I scrubbed the shower tiles with baking soda to remove the built up soap scum. This is hard work, and took some time and elbow grease.

Mostly I wrote and produced some new Darths & Droids strips.

Oh! I also went out to check on the jacaranda trees and the flowering progress. Within the next week or two they’ll be blooming profusely and hopefully I’ll get some photos worthy of printing.

New content today:

Errands and chores

I had a busy day. First off the rank was sending an Etsy order out at the post office. Then when I returned home I cleaned up, vacuuming the carpets and floors. Then I washed the kitchen floor (and also the balcony floor later in the afternoon). Changed out the damp absorbers in the wardrobes. Took out a bunch of rubbish.

In the middle of the day I caught a train into the city. I needed to go in to pick up a book I’d ordered from a game store in there: Original Adventures Reincarnated #4: The Lost City by Goodman Games. While in the city I grabbed some lunch. There aren’t a lot of particularly good places to grab a quick lunch in that part of the city, but a friend suggested the food hall at David Jones, an upmarket department store. The basement level food hall sells all sorts of gourmet ingredients, and they also have hot food bars and tables. I got a seat at the Asian bar and had a massaman curry with rice, which was fairly good.

Once back home, I grabbed my camera and went out to Kirribilli again to get another photo of the slowly emerging jacaranda flowers. Today they looked like this (compare to last week):

McDougall Street jacarandas: 19 Oct

While there, I noticed the rose beds in the adjacent park were also in flower and got a few photos of the roses:

Roses in Milson Park

Roses in Milson Park

And then by the time I got home, it was almost time to take Scully to the dog park, and buy some bread form the bakery on the way. A pretty full day right up to dinner time.

New content today:

Little tasks and writing

I did a lot of little housekeeping tasks today – some literally housework, some just some things I needed to get done for other reasons.

And I did a 1k run, setting a time of 4:25, exactly the same as last week.

And then I spent most of the day working on Darths & Droids comic scripts.

New content today:

Housework (and running poodle)

Yeah, the title pretty much sums it up. Vacuum cleaning, washing up, laundry (my wife did that), changing bedsheets, cleaning the bath, cleaning Scully (haha – we gave her a bath). And for dinner I made risotto, which is 15 minutes of prep followed by a solid half hour slaving over the stove, constantly stirring.

It was pumpkin risotto, with toasted pine nuts and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Pumpkin risotto

I make risotto a bit – it’s not hard, but it is time and effort intensive. Today’s one turned out very nice. We had a bottle of white wine open, so I added a splash, which you should do, but it’s rare that we have a bottle open, so I usually don’t. The real Reggiano cheese from Italy makes a difference too. I bought that recently to replace the Australian brand of parmesan that we usually buy.

Oh! One other thing I did today. I’ve been meaning for a while to try to take some photos of Scully running towards the camera, using my DSLR in AI Servo focus mode, so it tracks moving objects. So today I went out with my wife and Scully, and we found some grass where I could lie down and aim my camera at Scully while my wife tells her to sit and stay, and then walks over to where I was lying, and then calls Scully to come over. We used our special “cheese command word”. This is an emergency recall command, which we always reward with cheese, and it’s pretty much the only time she ever gets cheese, which she loves. So when she hears this word – “Schnell!” – we picked a German word so we never say it accidentally when talking – she comes absolutely running flat out towards us.

We repeated this exercise 4 times, and I took a bunch of photos rapid-fire. About half of them turned out blurry, but… we got a couple of very nice shots.

Scully running

Definitely going to try this again another day.

New content today:

More spring cleaning

Today was a lovely sunny Sunday, but I spent most of it inside doing more spring cleaning. It’s the first time since winter that I’ve felt warm enough to wear shorts and T-shirts all weekend. Although I suppose manual labour helps you keep warm!

I cleaned the balcony, sweeping up all the dried leaves and dead bugs and stuff that accumulated over the winter, and brushing away spider webs. Then I washed the tiles and cleaned the outdoor table and chairs. It’s nice to sit out there and have dinner on a balmy evening, but it’s too chilly over winter. Our balcony faces west so we get evening sunlight in the summer. I also cleaned the kitchen, scrubbing the cooktop, emptying crumbs out of the toaster, and cleaning crumbs off and polishing the benchtop.

This afternoon I spent some time writing Darths & Droids material, and my wife and I played a couple of games of Codenames Duet. We’ve begun work on the campaign format, where you play a series of games with increasingly difficult restrictions on numbers of turns, and try to win with all of the listed combinations. Each combination is represented by a city on a world map. Today we played Moscow, and then Cape Town, winning both games.

New content today:

Spring Cleaning, part 1

Today was a very busy day.

I started with Ethics class. Normally I walk to the school – it’s a good solid walk and takes over half an hour to get there. And then on the way home I usually take a different route for variety, and end up walking a longer distance and so taking a longer time to get home. But today I knew I wanted to get a lot done, so I chose to drive there and back.

The class was… mixed. We were discussing beliefs, and whether people should be entitled to believe what they want, even if it’s harmful, either to themselves or to others. The main story was about some kids discussing smoking, and one of them says they don’t see anything wrong with it, because their grandmother has smoked all her life and is fine, and that she might try it herself when she gets older. We discussed if this girl is entitled to believe this, if her belief should be respected, or tolerated, and if she should be allowed to write an article in the school newsletter promoting her belief. The discussion was interesting, but… it was disrupted a lot by two unruly kids today. These two have been behaving poorly in every class, sometimes better sometimes worse. But today they topped everything.

I don’t mind much if kids are keen to participate and end up talking all at once about the topic. But these two kids today were just downright ignoring the class and deliberately talking when I was talking. I spoke to a teacher afterwards about them, and he said he’d follow up on it. I’ve also sent an email to the school Ethics coordinator to see what the discipline options are. If it were up to me, I’d kick these kids out of the class and then they could explain to their parents why they got kicked out of a class that the parents wanted them to do.

When I got home, I decided to decompress by going for a quick run, just a 1k today. This is only the second timed 1k I’ve done, and I clocked 4:27 today, compared to 4:33 two weeks ago. I’m still getting used to pacing the distance – I took off fast and was almost exhausted halfway through so had to slow down a lot.

I walked home from the oval, and then thought I’d quickly take the rubbish out while I had my shoes on. I went inside, put my keys down, grabbed the rubbish, went outside… and realised I’d locked myself out. So after putting the rubbish in the bin, I had to walk to my wife’s work to get her keys – without a hat or sunglasses, which I normally wear outdoors. So that killed an extra 40 minutes.

After all that, I began spring cleaning the house. Since we’re in September and that marks the beginning of spring here. A full spring clean of the house takes at least a couple of days. I started with cleaning the windows today – something I don’t do very often because we’re in a second floor apartment, so it’s a little tricky to clean the outsides. For each window I:

  1. Remove the sliding pane, and wash it in the bathroom with soapy water and a squeegee.
  2. Do any gross cleaning, such as scrubbing the frame to remove dirt and specks of mould. This bit can take some time.
  3. Clean the inside of the fixed pane with Windex. (Not soapy water, since the water would run down onto the windowsill.)
  4. Remove the fly screen and wash it in the bathroom.
  5. Brush spiderwebs off the exterior of the window and surrounds, by leaning through to the exterior.
  6. Squeegee the exterior of the fixed pane, leaning out through the open window. For some windows this is tricky, as I need to do some climbing and stretching, and being careful not to fall out the window.
  7. Replace the flyscreen and sliding pane.

For six windows, this takes maybe 2-3 hours on a good day. Today was not a good day. The bedroom window had been getting progressively tougher to slide open and closed for the past few months, and the kitchen window was starting to feel the same. I did some Googling and found that a thing to do to loosen tough windows is to spray the window track with silicone lubricant. So yesterday when I went to the hardware store I’d bought a can.

I started on the bedroom window. After taking the sliding pane out and washing it clean, I figured I should first clean out the sliding track before applying the lubricant. It was filthy. First I vacuumed it to remove any loose material, and there was quite a lot of it: sand and dirt and gunk. Then I took to it with a cloth and soapy water, pushing the cloth into all the nooks and crannies and scrubbing hard to remove the dirt. The cloth came out absolutely filthy. After ten minutes or so of this cleaning, the track was looking pretty good. I dried it with paper towel and then sprayed the lubricant on.

Then I decided to turn the sliding pane (waiting in the bathroom after washing) upside down to have a look at the bottom side. And this is when I discovered that it has wheels. And that what had caused the sliding difficulties was that the wheel bearings had seized up with dirt, so the wheels no longer turned. And the friction of sliding the window on non-turning wheels for months had worn down the wheels so much that they were no longer even close to circular. So even if I could loosen the bearings and lubricate them so that they would turn, the wheels were ruined and wouldn’t rotate anyway.

I had a brief moment of thinking the window pane was ruined and I’d have to order another whole pane manufactured to fix this problem. And then I inspected the wheel area carefully. I found a screw that looked like it held in a removable section containing the wheel. So maybe the wheels were replaceable! I searched online and found that this is indeed a thing! Then I searched my local hardware store, and found they had replacement window roller wheels in stock, in various sizes.

Now, I didn’t want to put the window back and then have to remove it later after getting the replacement wheels. So I unscrewed the wheels, knocked them out with a hammer (they were wedged in really hard), and took them to the hardware store to make sure I could get identical replacements. Here’s what the old wheels looked like:

Worn window rollers

You can see the flat areas (arrowed) where the wheels had been worn down by sliding. I did manage to get them to rotate a little bit before taking this photo, which is why the flat part is at an odd angle. Anyway, I found the replacements I needed at the hardware store, and also bought some extra Windex while I was there. I inserted the replacement wheels, in both the bedroom and kitchen windows, and replaced them in their tracks after cleaning. Et voilà! The windows slide beautifully now!

During rest breaks in between cleaning all the other windows, I mentioned my labours to my friends in our Discord chat. One guy was all, “Oh yeah, I replace the roller wheels in my windows every few years.” Well, thanks for telling me that this is a thing you need to do! When I bought this place, nobody gave me an owner’s manual saying that you had to do stuff like replace the window wheels. How many people even know that this is a thing you can do or have to do? What other home maintenance things do some people know about that I’m blithely ignorant of?

Anyway, I’m happy that I’ve solved the problem and done some home handyman stuff that fixed a problem, for just the cost of some spare parts. Now we have nice clean and beautifully sliding windows again.

But now that the windows are clean, I’m counting down the hours until a moth leaves a big ugly print on them again. They inevitably do it within 48 hours of the windows being cleaned. And then oddly no new prints appear for the next several months until I clean them again.

New content today:

Dental day

I had a dentist appointment today, for a routine clean and checkup. My previous appointment was just before COVID really hit Australia, so this was my first time going back under the new circumstances. I was struck by the spartan look in the waiting room, and realised it was because all of the magazines that are usually there had been removed, as well as the water pitcher and glasses, the box of tissues and waste bin, and the display stand of brochures about various dental health issues. All that was left were the chairs and an empty coffee table.

I had to answer a short COVID questionnaire, but other than that it was all pretty normal once things got started. There was a new hygienist there today, and I was happy because the previous one, while very nice to talk to, was rather rough with the cleaning tools and always used to hurt my teeth and gums more than any other. The new woman was a lot gentler and the whole cleaning was much less unpleasant than last time. Then the dentist examined my teeth and I mentioned an annoying thing with food getting stuck between two particular teeth lately. He said yes, he could see a hole there, where a prior filling had chipped and part of it had fallen out. He recommended I get it refilled, so on the way out I made another appointment for the filling, this Thursday.

I walked to the dentist via the hardware store first. I needed to pick up a few things, and it’s in the same direction, so it was a good opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. One thing I got is some silicone lubricant, which I’m going to use on our sliding window tracks later this week, when I do the window washing for spring cleaning. I’m sure that’ll be a highlight of this blog… so stay tuned for that one. 🤣

New content today:

Back to the office

Back to the office for my wife, that is. Her work is transitioning back from work-from-home to having staff in the office again, not that COVID cases here in New South Wales have flattened down to single digits per day. She was keen to go back into the office, because it’s been tricky and distracting for both of us with her working from home. And her work is walking distance away, so she doesn’t need to brave public transport with COVID out there.

Which means I had the whole morning at home by myself for the first time in months. I actually used the time to do some housecleaning and some other chores, including gluing a loose sole back onto one of my shoes.

Then I got stuck into some Darths & Droids writing, bashing out three comic scripts, with the help of my co-writers over online chat. With a week’s worth of new strips written, I then moved to assembling the comics, and completed two before this evening.

Oh, and this afternoon I took Scully to the dog park. It was a lovely late winter day outside, with warm sunshine, and a definite hint of spring in the air. Although the forecast for later this week is a bit more rain and cold.

New content today:

Into August

This fine Saturday morning my wife and I took Scully on a long walk, dong a 5 kilometre loop from our place, past our favourite bakery where we got some sourdough bread. Scully got to meet a lot of dogs today, and we did some ball throwing and chasing down by the marina. A lot of people were out walking this morning, enjoying the sunshine.

It’s the first day of August and flowers are appearing all over the place. The magnolias started a few weeks ago, but now azaleas are coming out, and I expect cherry blossoms will be along soon. It really feels like the worst of winter is over and things are warming up for spring.

Back home, it was housework day, with vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom and shower to be done. I also checked on the car floor mats that I washed yesterday. They’ve been drying for over 24 hours now and they’re still noticeably wet. I’m hoping they’ll finally dry out overnight so we can put them back in the car tomorrow before my wife needs to use it.

This evening we watched another episode of the new Doctor Who‘s 9th season.It’s been so long that I only have vague memories of the episodes and can’t remember how the story unfolded, so it’s almost as good as watching it unspoiled.

New content today: