Thursday, 16 August 2012

Ugly Boats and Ugly Houses

I remember once one of my ex-girlfriends was having a tantrum and picked up a heavy paperweight and made as if to throw it into the leaded glass window on the built-in-buffet...  "Don't!"  I screamed, "Tell me why I shouldn't?" she yelled back, red faced and with flaming eyes....  "Because it's beautiful." I replied.  She calmed down, lowered her throwing arm (which I can assure you was deadly accurate and powerful when used!) and said "Yes.  It is.".  Beauty managed to save itself from destruction in that case.

Another time when I was a Realtor I was working with a young woman buyer and she had a list of very practical requirements of the home (she was an accountant) and she was very tight in the budget department...  I showed her a house that ticked all her boxes except having a garage door opener...  Unfortunately what the house did have was orange (yes I mean it) shag carpet wall to wall and on those walls  was the synthetic 'genuine imitation picture of wood' fake wood panels, the basement was full of dead appliances, the upstairs had that 50's colourful striped carpet... it was UGLY!!!  She said, "I can't buy it; it's too ugly" and I said "But it has everything you want, new roof, new furnace, updated plumbing, near the bus, nice area...." etc etc ... Of course I understood... it was UGLY!  A week or so later I heard from the agent who had that house listed asking me what my buyer thought... I told him it was probably the right house for her but that it was just too ugly... He said "Put it in writing, whatever you want, make us an offer; my seller is very handy and is keen to sell."  My buyer took some persuading; it was hard to get her to see what the house would look like with the carpet all removed and the floors all polished, the paneling taken down and the walls patched and painted beige, the giant woodburning stove removed from the middle of the dining room (you can't make this stuff up seriously), AND a garage door opener installed.  It was the longest list of requests addendum I have ever seen in real estate and nearly every one was accepted.  The day we inspected the house, after the work was done and before closing, my buyer was astounded (and so was I) it was the cutest little house with beautiful maple floors.  Several years later I saw that buyer at an event and she was still in love with her house.  Ugly just might not be permanent.

I've been shopping for a boat - now that I live in tropical paradise I may as well get out on the water and enjoy it...  I fell in love with the prettiest little runabout, but it doesn't have an electric tilt button and I don't think my body can handle lifting the engine.  It also only really has room for two people, the trailer was rusty and unregistered, it is a long way away...

In my imagination I want a boat like this one (it only costs about 20 times my budget!)

Then, for the same small budget, here locally, I found a bigger boat with an engine with tilt, rego on the boat and trailer (which is decent), all the safety gear, and plenty of room....   but OH MY GOD IT IS UGLY!  This thing has been hand painted (without the need of masking tape or a good eye, perhaps Helen Keller and Stevie Wonder worked on the paint job together?)  It has all the wires running down the side just hanging there, the bench seat across the front is a lump of timber, it is hideous!  But hey as I used to say to my real estate clients... "Paint's cheap!"

This weekend I am going over to town to go to Uni for a workshop...  I have arranged to check out the boat again on Saturday (after my course) and if it all checks out on Sunday I will take the truck over on the barge and pick up the boat...  I'm not sure if I want to call this boat 'The Silk Purse' or 'The Beast' but either way it will be quite the project cleaning it up.  Maybe I will blog about my progress (with pictures of the hideous thing)...

Pretty ugly huh?  I blotted out the guy and the number though...  (Actually it looks worse than this in person).

Perhaps I will paint flowers all over it like the old VW's from the 60's and 70's?  Maybe I will install a couple of banana lounges in the back of the cockpit?

Whatever way it goes it will be an adventure!

So unless something better presents in the next 24 hours I am buying the ugly boat on Sunday!

UPDATE: not 30 minutes after I posted this blog I was contacted by someone in response to my wanted ad - now the ugly boat has a competitor!  Two to see on the weekend!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Being Grateful!

I shared this on Facebook this morning and it got me thinking that I probably could do with a gratitude list - so here it is!

When I lived in the US once a year we would have what was usually an orphan's Thanksgiving dinner.  We invited anyone we knew who couldn't go to their own family... for whatever reason...  Always there were people there whom I had never met, frequently there were people who spoke no English, and usually very few of those present knew each other.  We ate - huge meals of turkey, with lashings of vegetables and then desserts; and we drank - significant quantities of wine usually.  The funniest time was when we invited this Moroccan guy, Adi, who was married to an American acquaintance... his wife was away on an academic appointment and so he was going to be home alone.  Adi was a great dinner guest but I must confess to fits of uncontrollable giggles (wine assisted I'm sure) overtaking me when he brought out his slide projector and started showing us a travelogue of the tour he was selling to Morroco!  He had printed sheets for us and our other guests to sign up there and then - everything but the credit card machine!  Another time we had two Korean students (they were at law school with a friend of ours) and one of them brought her mother who spoke no English - the poor woman (who remained sober) was quite overwhelmed by the raucous, inebriated volume of our laughter and conversation.  One of the memorable components of each of these cacophonous gatherings was the pause before we actually ate when we would go around the table and each say a few words about the things that year had delivered for which we were grateful.  I kind of miss that... the breath to think about only the benefits... the moment to rise beyond the irritations of daily life and look at the more important truths...

Charlie Brown and Snoopy can't even hope to be grateful every day for everything - but how about being grateful today for the good stuff?

I am grateful for (in non-significant order)
  • being Australian
  • living in a country where (in spite of constant attacks from the right wing, big money, and big finance) there is still a system of universal education, welfare, and healthcare
  • having in my life a plethora of interesting, intelligent, like-minded people who believe in taking care of those who have harder roads, the earth, the animals, the ocean...  I am grateful for their passion and their staunch beliefs
  • every day in every way I am grateful for my parents and my upbringing most especially my mother who is omnipresent in my thoughts in spite of the nearly 4 years that have passed since she died
  • The Boy - OMG I am so grateful for The Boy - when life has reached its lowest ebb it is his existence that has enabled me to survive (as a side note he is doing incredibly well at the moment and has been promoted to supervisor only half way through his traineeship - it doubles his salary and the company has put him in the very best location in their flagship store - starting the day before his 19th birthday The Boy is on his way!)  I am so very fortunate that all my crappy decisions didn't manage to screw him up too much!
  • the dogs.  Frizby and Venus add so much to my daily life especially in the production of endorphins I'm sure.  I adore the babies and I love that TLOML and I are both loving them together
  • The Best Friend - anyone who has read this blog before knows what a jackpot I have won with her, I am forever in her debt for the help she has given The Boy and I am so lucky to have her friendship
  • the chooks who give us lovely fresh eggs but who more importantly give me pleasure and make me feel all warm and fuzzy and entertained
  • opportunity - just when I thought I was pretty much out to pasture from now on I have had yet another opportunity land in my lap - work I can do while lying in bed, that furthers my studies and enhances my resume while paying me a good casual wage... just a few hours a week but that is about all I have in me anyway...  Out of nowhere here comes another chance to feel success
  • my intelligence and my ability to write - I'm not meaning to sound arrogant but I would be remiss if I failed to be thankful for these undeserved (and frequently misused) gifts
  • The Nurse - how lucky am I that I come to a strange place, where I only know TLOML, and I find in her friend someone who is so wonderful and so accepting of me - someone who has been open to allow us to develop our own relationship and whom I just adore!  (she loves me too!)  Serendipity at it's finest.
  • TLOML's youngest son - his presence makes me feel just a little less pain about being so far away from The Boy; his humour clicks with mine and I am grateful for the moments when our eyes meet with understanding and laughter.  I am also grateful for the fact that we just 'get' each other and that he forgives my grumpy moods.  He can be a shit of a kid (can't they all?) but I really love him and that is something worthy of gratitude!
  • his father - how cool is it to really enjoy your partner's ex?
  • my health - I know this sounds strange being that I have a chronic illness but it's true - even though I am in constant pain and I never feel great, I'm actually quite healthy in other ways... I rarely catch colds or viruses and my constitution is strong - good heart, low blood pressure, and all this in spite of the terrible things I have inflicted upon my system over the years...
  • Facebook - without FB I would not be able to maintain solid and consistent relationships with the many friends I love all over the world - I can't hug them but we can interact and correspond and KNOW that we think of each other with love and fondness.  Also it was Facebook that brought TLOML back into my life and I will thank FB forever for that.
  • my friends who are scattered so far and wide - loving them makes me feel good
  • good food!  Here in Australia we are lucky to have terrific fresh produce, meats, seafood and anything else we might want.  I'm learning to cook (after decades of avoiding it vehemently), I'm almost enjoying it and we sure do get to eat well!
  • TLOML - I've carried on enough in these pages about how fortunate I am to have met this crazy wonderful woman... we have our ups and downs, our moments of pique, and yet we just roll on past them - not dragging them on like extra carriages of cargo - they are shunted off onto a siding never to be seen again...  she shares without question her life, her house (which is now our home), her friends, and her family, and my life has a depth of pleasure and a richness I never expected to experience again.
I'm sure I have missed stuff, it is by no means a complete list - off the top of my head these are the biggies...

I think it's good for us all to spend time occasionally thinking only of the good stuff - let all the nasty stuff go -- for the most part, you can't change it anyway so why dwell on it?  I'm not convinced of the power of positive thinking and I can be a bit of a pessimistic optimist at times (hope for the best and plan for the worst) but really a few minutes dedicated to thinking only the stuff that feels good is really healthy!

Thanks to any of you out there who bother to read this and comment -- I love you too!

Thank Herbert for it all!