Wednesday, April 25, 2012

House Repairs

This week, I've been busy attending to various repairs required around the house. We have lived in this present house for a little over four years. The wear and tear has started showing. Is it normal for houses to start giving problems so soon? I'm not sure as this is the first house we own that we are living in. Before this, we lived in an apartment, and another house which E owned had been rented out and subsequently sold. Could it be that the construction quality is bad and materials and fittings provided inferior? Or are we just unfortunate? I believe it is a combination of both.

So far, we have fixed an internal waterpipe leak in one of the bathrooms, replaced a tap and pipe fittings for a sink, rectified the waterproofing of our car porch roof, replaced several door knobs (three incidents of being locked in), exterminated and treated the house for termites, and unclogged a few toilet bowls.

On Monday, we got a so-called roofing specialist to fix our roof which had been leaking when it rained, creating wet patches on our top floor ceiling, and if the rain was heavy, water dripped onto the floor.  Hopefully the problem has been rectified. It has not rained heavily these few days for me to find out.

Last Sunday, while I was showering, the water pump that creates the pressure to distribute water within the house short circuited. It tripped our power supply so we had no choice but to switch it off.  For the past few days, we had to shower with low water pressure until today, when I went out to purchase a brand new pump, and called the plumber to install it.

Next, we will need to fix or rebuild the dividing wall outside that we share with our next-door neighbour. Our driveway has a slight incline and I believe the foundation had not properly set when they built the wall. So over time, the lower part of the inclined shifted further downwards, causing cracks on the wall.

Another item that needed attention was our outdoor water filter. During the recent service, the technician discovered that both the pressure gauges were faulty. As he didn't have spare ones with him that time, he had to come back another time to replace them. A week later, I noticed that one of it was not functioning, despite it being new. I had to call them and get it replaced again.

All these calling and making appointments and juggling my schedule to accommodate the various service providers has kept me busy this week. It's a good thing that C's football practice at school has taken a temporary break as the mid-year exams are looming. This means I don't have to go to school to supply her with an afternoon snack and change of clothes and fetch her home later than usual.

Tomorrow, the plumber is returning and this time, to fix a problem with a leaky cistern for one of the toilet bowls. He couldn't do it today as he didn't have the spare parts and it was too late in the evening by the time he finished installing the water pump upstairs.

Within these three days, we have spent over RM4,000, mainly to fix the roof and replace the water pump.

Sigh, in such times I wish I have Handy Manny around -- a friendly, trustworthy, reasonable handyman who can fix everything with a smile and a kind and generous spirit. The ones we usually meet have dollar signs in their eyes, blow a lot of hot air, promise the sky and moon but deliver (unmentionable)...

Speaking of Handy Manny, I remember when C was younger, we used to enjoy watching his cartoons, singing and dancing along to the catchy theme song.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

E's birthday

It's E's birthday today. Last night C made this birthday card for him. She traced the picture from one of her Calvin & Hobbes comic books and transferred it onto the paper. She then added in the finer details and colour and asked me to help write the greeting in cursive. Then she wrote the message in Calvin's speech bubble:

"Sometimes, it's just good to kick back and remember what (has) happened in your life so far."

Sometimes, I wonder what goes on in that mind of hers.

She signed it off with her own cursive "love, (her signature)" and asked me to sign it too, and she later added in the angelic heart picture. She asked me if her signature is nice so I said 'yes'. She said her friend told her it's ugly so I taught her the sayings "Each to his own" and "One man's meat is another man's poison".

Happy Birthday, Eugene/Daddy!

Water woes

On Sunday evening, we discovered that our housing estate's water supply was disrupted. Upon further checking in the water concessionaire's website and Facebook page, we learned that a transformer in the water treatment plant that services our area (and many others in KL) had been out of commission. We have been without water supply since then. Today is the fourth day!

What is most irritating is the lack of proper public announcement and up-to-date information in the maintream media to keep those affected in the know. It is taking a long time to rectify as it seems that the spare parts are not available. I just can't believe that in this day and age, this so-called developing country's capital city is stricken in such a way. We might as well be living in a third world country.

Luckily, our house has a reserve tank that provides water to our bathrooms. We still have some water in the tank and are using it sparingly to flush our toilets, wash up and take quick showers. Laundry has been piling up. Water for the taps in the kitchen come from the mains so washing things in the kitchen are a hassle. I've not cooked very much the past few days and I've been using water from a bucket to rinse stuff in the kitchen when needed. We've been eating dinner out of paper plates and disposable containers and cutlery to avoid washing too many dishes. And we have to buy bottled drinking water from the supermarket.

Two days ago, water trucks have been sent to us to provide us with some water. We have to get all our buckets ready and wait outside our gates. When the truck stops at our spot, everyone queues up and takes turns to fill up their buckets, basins, containers, etc.

Some of my buckets and basins

C (red tshirt) filling up a bucket

The water truck - although it says 'air bersih' (clean water), the water is slightly yellowish

Last night, the water truck came again and I managed to fill up a few buckets which I had used up during the day. And water supply was then restored in our taps. There was a buzz of  happy comments in our Residents' Facebook page. It started with a small trickle from the taps and then it reached almost-normal flow although pressure was rather low. Then it fizzled out to a trickle again. I suspected that the supply was only temporary and true enough, this morning, our taps are dry again. No one knows when the problem will be totally fixed. The water concessionaire's Facebook page is filled with comments, some very strongly-worded with curse words too.

I really hope water supply will resume very, very soon. And someone has to answer and take responsibility for this fiasco!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Fast vs. slow

It's human nature that when we are interested in something we will work on it quickly, with focus and eagerness. When it's something we loathe and dread, we'll tarry and procrastinate. Likewise with C, when she's interested in or excited about something, when something is her own idea, she'll complete it very quickly. When it's something she doesn't like, or something that requires effort, she'll procrastinate and leave it till the very last minute, or she'll drag herself through it and take a really long time to complete it.

This morning, she wanted to leave a note for E while he was still asleep. She grabbed a sheet of paper and started writing and drawing. Within one minute, this is what she came up with.

I just wish when it comes to eating, taking a shower, getting ready for bed/school, doing her homework, studying or practising her piano/drums, she could do it with such ease and haste....

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Foodie public holiday

The mid-week public holiday yesterday for the installation of our 14th Yang Dipertuan Agong (King) has gotten me slightly off-track. I keep thinking it's Monday today instead of Thursday.

We made an unplanned trip to visit my in-laws in Klang yesterday and had lunch with them at our favourite seafood restaurant, Yong Tat Restaurant in Telok Gong. We had fried lala beehoon (vermicelli with clams), prawns, crabs and mushrooms. And before coming home, we just had to pack Klang's famous offering of 'bak kut teh' from Teluk Pulai so that I didn't have to cook dinner.

But in the end, we saved the 'bak kut teh' in the fridge for tonight instead as we made last-minute plans to have dinner with my side of the family at a western food cafe in Taman Desa. We had our individual meals of chicken maryland, spaghetti bolognaise, spaghetti alfredo, oxtail soup, oxtail stew, chicken deminoff, grilled salmon spaghetti, and chicken cordon bleu. If you give them your business card, you can get a VIP privilege card that entitles you to 15% discount.

Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera along to take pictures of all the food we had to share it here and make us drool.

It's back to school and work today for C and E, and work/chores for me at home. The weekend is coming soon but we won't be able to sleep in this Saturday. C's school is conducting their Sports Day rehearsal at the actual venue (a stadium, away from school) so we'll have to get up early to get her there by 7.30am. Sports day will be on 28th April, another Saturday which we can't sleep in.

The weather has not been too good this week as it's usually very hot in the morning and by late afternoon it pours. The sudden changes in temperature and having to get in and out of the house and car several times a day is irritating my nose and throat. I might just go see a doctor today for my mild sore throat.

Yesterday evening, parts of Malaysia felt the tremors of the 8.9 and 8.7 quakes that took place off Sumatera. A tsunami alert was issued and thankfully at this time of writing, no tsunami has happened.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Blogging in an apartment vs. blogging in a house

For days, I've been telling myself it's time again to update this blog but other things keep getting in the way. I remember when I started this blog in 2007, C was still in kindergarten. .

Back then, the eagerness to blog was stronger and I could write up to three posts a day on various subjects. I seemed to have more time to blog then. We lived in a small apartment, so everything was within a few footsteps' reach. Now we live in a three-storey house and everything requires more footsteps, and steps on the staircase! The apartment had less floor area to clean. The house has double the floor area.

In the apartment, I didn't have to spend time hanging out the laundry as there was hardly any space to do so. I just dumped everything into the dryer and didn't have to worry when it rained. Now, I spend time hanging out the laundry, watching the sky in case it threatens to rain, moving the clothes in when I go out, and taking down the laundry once they are dry.

In the apartment we couldn't have pets. Now, we have a dog. I spend time feeding and combing his fur, washing the porch where he pees on my car tyres and flower pots (that 'boy' just can't resist anything that's upright! and training him requires more time and patience!). Every few months I spend up to two hours trimming his fur. Luckily, I don't have to walk him as E does that at night, unless E is not at home. Once a week, either E or I will have to give him a bath.

In the apartment, we didn't have plants. Now, we have a small grass patch with plants that need watering, fertilising, trimming and weeding.

Although C's hours at kindy were shorter compared to now in primary school, she took naps in the afternoons at times and didn't have homework. Now, although school hours are longer and I have more time alone in the mornings, the mornings are filled with relatively more chores around the house (as stated above) and C does not take naps in the afternoons. Instead, she has homework that I supervise while preparing dinner, and music lessons that I need to chauffeur her to and from.

In the early days of this blog, most of my writing 'work' was for fun, exploration and the blog. Now, my writing is more for some pocket money so this blog (and the others) take a backseat. That's why instead of three posts a day, I'd be lucky if I can write three posts a month.

When your living conditions and environment changes, it certainly affects many aspects of your life, blogging included!